Amid demands of the having a “civilian-led transitional authority” in Sudan to resolve an entrenched and bloody crisis, the African Union (AU) suspended Sudan on Thursday.
Calls for the AU to take action mounted following Monday’s crackdown on protesters who had camped outside army headquarters in Khartoum where dozens were killed when security forces stormed the lengthy sit-in.
However, on Wednesday, an opposition-linked doctors’ group said 40 bodies had been pulled from the Nile, sending the death toll to at least 108.
The AU’s conflict-resolution body, which handed down its suspension the Peace and Security Council, expressed that transferring power to a civilian-led authority was “the only way to allow Sudan to exit the current crisis”.
Thousands of demonstrators that remained defiant following military ousting of long-time president Omar al-Bashir took to the streets calling for the generals to cede power to civilians, read a News24 report.
The AU, which strongly backed the protesters urged the military council to ensure a smooth transition, warning they risked suspension otherwise.
Despite pressure from some African nations for a longer timeline, in May, the organization reiterated this ultimatum giving the military a new 60-day deadline.
Analysts said the AU’s push to act sooner came after the United Nations, US and Britain among others condemned the brutal dispersal of protesters
“I think this outbreak of violence has caused them to bring this forward,” said the head of Africa regional advocacy for the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, Elissa Jobson.
“I would say it was a clear condemnation of that.”
Sudan now joins a handful other nations suspended from the 55-member AU in the recent years.
This means they are now also barred from attending from all summits and meetings.
Egypt was suspended in 2013 when the army overthrew the elected president Mohamed Morsi, and Burkina Faso was barred in 2015 for its own military coup, states a News24 report.
The chairperson of the Peace and Security Council, Patrick Kapuwa, said “punitive measures” would also be imposed on those standing in the way of a peaceful transfer of power in Sudan.
The AU, which rarely imposes sanctions on member states even though it has the power to, the suspension is unlikely to affect the day-to-day functions of Sudan’s military council.
“But it still has a really, really big symbolic effect,” said Jobson.