African Union lifts suspension of Sudan

AU says three-month freeze lifted after Khartoum installed a civilian government and named a new cabinet.

    African Union lifts suspension of Sudan
    Sudan's military, civilian parties and protest groups signed a three-year power-sharing deal in August [Ashraf Shazly/AFP]

    The African Union (AU) has lifted its suspension of Sudan's membership in the bloc, ending a three-month freeze that had been in place pending the installation of a civilian-led government after the removal of long-term President Omar al-Bashir.

    The move on Friday came after Sudan's newly appointed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok formed his first cabinet as part of a three-year transitional power-sharing agreement between Sudan's military, civilian parties and protest groups.

    The AU's Peace and Security Council said in a tweet that the pan-African body has decided "to lift the suspension of the participation of #Sudan in the activities of the #AU, now that #Sudan established a civilian-led Government".

    The Sudanese foreign ministry hailed the decision in a statement on Friday, saying: "(We) use this great occasion to reaffirm our commitment to the goals and objectives of the African Union."

    Suspension

    Sudan's membership was suspended in June following the violent dispersal of a major protest site in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, during which opposition medics said dozens of people were killed in a standoff between the ruling military council and civilian opposition.

    On Thursday, Hamdok formed the country's first cabinet since April, when al-Bashir was unseated by the military amid massive street demonstrations.

    Moussa Faki Mahamat, head of the AU Commission, hailed the newly-announced cabinet, and Sudan's first-ever female foreign minister, by Hamdok as the "beginning of a new era and a fitting tribute to the determination of the Sudanese people for a new Sudan" on Thursday.

    Sudan's military removed and arrested al-Bashir in April, after 16 weeks of protests triggered by an economic crisis that included sharp inflation and shortages of cash and fuel.

    A military council took over and began talks with protest and opposition groups, but negotiations were marred by lethal violence used against ongoing demonstrations.

    Power-sharing accord

    Last month's power-sharing deal, brokered by the AU and Ethiopia, included the establishment of a civilian cabinet and legislature and a joint military-civilian sovereign council to run the country for three years until elections can be held.

    The cabinet is expected to steer the daily affairs of the country, while the council has been set up to oversee the transition.

    The council will be led by a military figure for the first 21 months, after which leadership will rotate to a civilian for a further 18 months.

    SOURCE: News agencies