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Sudan Crisis deepens as Death Toll Passes 120
Africa

Sudan Crisis deepens as Death Toll Passes 120

he United Nations will pull staff out of Sudan as the African Union (AU) moved to suspend the membership of the crisis-hit country. The UN plans to relocate some personnel because of the violence but will have "critical" members in the country, its spokeswoman Farhan Haq said on Wednesday. In a strongly worded statement, the AU said it deplored the loss of innocent lives in recent days in Sudan and called for the military and security forces to ensure the full protection of civilians and respect for human rights and freedoms. The AU’s decision was prompted by the deaths on Monday of more than 120 people when paramilitaries attacked a protest camp in the centre of Khartoum. Many hundreds were injured. There is increasing anxiety among observers that the crisis will exacerbate divisions within Sudan’s security establishment, raising the prospect of armed factions battling for power. The AU had set repeated deadlines in a bid to force concessions from the transitional military council (TMC), which seized power when the dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April after months of mass protests. Negotiations between the military and protest leaders broke down due to disagreements over whether a planned transitional body would be headed by a civilian or a military figure. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will visit Khartoum on Friday to hold talks with both the military rulers and the opposition group over the country’s political crisis, a source from the Alliance for Freedom and Change said. The source told Radio Dalsan that the opposition alliance was invited to meet Dr Abiy during his one-day visit. “Alliance for Freedom and Change has received an invitation for a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who will visit the country on Friday. The agenda of the invitation is only related to the talks over the political crisis in Sudan,” the source said. Dr Abiy’s mediation comes amid the suspension of Sudan from all African Union activities until the military rulers hand over to civilian-led authority. Sudan unrest has claimed more than 100 lives after security forces stormed a weeks-long sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum. The protests forced the military to oust veteran president Omar al-Bashir in April.