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African Union, IGAD envoys at odd over Sudan’s transitional authority

African Union Envoy to Sudan EL-hacen Lebatt (R) listens to UNAMID head Jeremiah Mamabolo on 5 May 2019 (Photo UNAMID)
June 19, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - African Union Envoy and the IGAD Mediator for Sudan are at odds over the formation of civilian-led authority in Sudan as their difference may further complicate the situation in Khartoum, said sources close to the file said.

On 6 June the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) suspended Sudan’s membership at the regional body in order to put pressure on the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) to hand over power to a civilian government after the bloody raid on the pro-democracy sit-in area that resulted in the death of over 100 protesters.

Further, based on the principle of subsidiarity tasked the east African bloc of IGAD and its Chair the Ethiopian Prime Minister to mediate between the Sudanese stakeholders "with a view to speedily establish a civilian-led Transitional Authority in Sudan".

Immediately after the visit of the Ethiopian Prime Minister to Khartoum on 8 June, the African Union Chairperson and Chadian diplomat issued a statement to express his deep appreciation for "the close collaboration between IGAD and the AU Special Envoy Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt "to bring the Sudanese parties to the negotiating table.

Reliable sources close to the file in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune that Lebatt seeks to hamper the mission of the Ethiopian mediator Mahmoud Dirir as he continues to work in solo in a way to affirm his role in Khartoum.

Lebatt and Dirir now have different views on the position to adopt vis-à-vis the military junta in Khartoum and "how to establish a civilian-led authority in Sudan," said the source which preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Lebatt backs the view that the military council can hand over power to any civilian government the junta can pick to lead the country during an agreed transitional period and to task it with the preparation of general elections, according to the source.

While Dirir believes that the African Union should back the deal struck by the military council and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) who led the protest movement before the al-Bashir collapse, he added.

If the African Union backs the military council and did not broker an acceptable for the two parties that may lead to the continuation of protests and political instability in the country, and also discredits the regional organisation, the source further stressed.

The military council in Khartoum is speaking about the formation of a caretaker government, as the political forces that were allied to al-Bashir’s regime are now regrouping and forming new political entities calling to involve them in the transitional institutions.

The IGAD Council of Ministers will convene an extraordinary on Sudan Wednesday 19 June to discuss the political crisis in Sudan as the junta says they want to control the collegial presidency and refuses to give it to the FFC.

The former Mauritanian foreign minister worked in the past as AU envoy for the Central African Republic, from February 2016 to August 2017.

With the continuation of the CAR’s conflict, Lebatt was replaced by a Burkina Faso diplomat and he had been appointed as a Special Adviser to the Chairperson of the AU Commission, in charge of Strategic Issues.