Ethiopian PM visits Sudan in bid to mediate crisis

The Associated Press

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, arrives in Khartoum on Friday.

The Associated Press KHARTOUM (AP) — Ethiopia’s prime minister urged “courage” as he met separately with Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders on Friday in a bid to revive negotiations amid a crackdown on demonstrations that has killed more than 100 people since Monday.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a young reformist who assumed office a year ago, has been at the center of high-profile diplomatic efforts in the Horn of Africa region, including a surprise restoration of diplomatic ties between Ethiopia and rival Eritrea. He arrived in Sudan as the crisis following the overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir turned increasingly violent.

The military removed al-Bashir from power in April after months of mass protests but has resisted the protesters’ demands for an immediate handover of power to civilians. On Monday, security forces violently dispersed the main sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, and similar clashes have erupted in other cities and towns.

The African Union, based in Ethiopia, suspended Sudan on Thursday and threatened “punitive sanctions” if the military doesn’t quickly relinquish power.

Abiy met Friday with Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling council, as well as protest leaders before leaving Khartoum in the evening.

In a phone interview with Saudi-owned satellite channel al-Arabiya, protest leader Gaafar Hassan declined to discuss the meeting in detail, saying a news conference would be held later, but ruled out any “direct” or “indirect” talks with the military.

“The [military] council has lost its political as well as its ethical legitimacy and we cannot deal with it, but we call for its ouster,” he said.

In a statement shared by the military council, the Ethiopian prime minister called on the Sudanese to show “courage” and move quickly toward a democratic, inclusive transition. Political parties should not be held hostage to prejudices of the past, he added.

There was no immediate comment from the office of the Ethiopian prime minister and it was not known what demands were made during the talks or what will happen next.

The Sudan Doctors’ Central Committee, one of the protest groups, said at least 113 people have been killed and more than 500 wounded since Monday. It says more than 40 bodies have been pulled from the Nile River in Khartoum and taken away by security forces since the violence erupted.

The protesters have blamed much of the violence on the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group that grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militias mobilized by al-Bashir during the Darfur conflict in the early 2000s. The militias were widely accused of crimes against humanity, and al-Bashir — now jailed in Khartoum — was indicted on charges of genocide.Speech

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