The president of Egypt and Chair of the African Union(AU), convened a summit on the situation in Sudan. The Summit was attended by Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Rwanda, South Africa, Somalia, Ethiopia- as chair of IGAD, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. In addition to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The key recommendation of the Summit held in Cairo to the AU Peace and Security Council, is to extend by three months the timeline given to Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) to implement the measures outlined in the PSC communique of 15 April 2019.
The said communique condemned and rejected the seizure of power by Sudanese military and demanded that the Sudanese military step aside and hand over power to a transitional civilian-led political authority within 15 days (by 30 April 2019). The communique also stated that if the military fails to do so by the deadline stipulated, the PSC would suspend SUDAN from participation in all AU activities.
The provisions of the PSC communique are in line with the AU legal framework on Unconstitutional Changes of Government – which in its definition includes a military coup d’etat. This is what has transpired in Sudan- a military takeover of power, suspension of the constitution and the formation of a military-led transitional government.
Any decision by the AU-PSC on 30 April to extend the timeline for Sudan’s TMC to transfer power to a civilian authority as per recommendation of the Summit in Cairo would be in stark contravention of the AU’s own normative and legal framework on military coups and unconstitutional changes of government. Moreover, it would send the wrong political signal to the people of Sudan and severely undermine the credibility and relevance of the continental body.
The protestors remain guided by the strong desire for a civilian-led transition government that will pave the way for a democratic transformation of the county. Hence, the extension of the duration granted the transitional military council will undermine the objective of the popular uprising, which the council has recognized, in the press statement on 29 April 2014, is a result of governance deficiencies and called upon States to deepen the culture of democracy, accountability, inclusiveness, participation, reconciliation and good governance to foster peace and stability on the continent.
While President El-Sisi currently holds the chairmanship of the African Union and it is in this capacity that he convened the Cairo Summit, he lacks credibility among Sudanese people.
The African Union must take a principled stance on 30 April 2019 that is aligned with its norms and values as reflected in its own instruments and must demonstrate to Sudanese citizens and the world that it is an institution that is relevant to the people of this continent and supports their aspirations for democratic governance, peace and prosperity.
This is a critical moment for the African Union. The peace and Security Council must stand on the right side of history. The women, men and children of Sudan who have been peacefully protesting on the streets for close to five months for their human rights, political freedom and most of all for basic human dignity will look to the AU PSC on 30 April 2019 to live up to the values and norms they espouse.