African leaders meeting in Cairo agreed to give Sudan’s ruling military council three months to implement democratic reforms, Egypt said, amid pressure for a speedy handover of power to civilians.
The decision extends a 15-day deadline set by the African Union for Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) to hand over power to civilians or to be suspended. The TMC took over after President Omar al-Bashir was ousted on April 11.
Any suspension of Sudan’s AU membership could affect TMC efforts to win international recognition as legitimate rulers during an interim period of up to two years and delay any aid to a country trying to cope with a dire economic crisis.
The TMC is under pressure from demonstrators to hand power rapidly to civilians since the military ousted Bashir following months of protests against his 30 years in office.
Speaking at the end of a summit attended by several African heads of state, Sisi said the meeting agreed on the need to deal with the situation in Sudan by working to “quickly restore the constitutional system through a political democratic process led and managed by the Sudanese themselves”.
Sisi, who holds the rotating African Union presidency, said African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat briefed the meeting on recent talks in Khartoum.
“We agreed on the need for more time for Sudanese authorities and Sudanese parties to implement these measures,” Sisi told the meeting.
Presidency Spokesman Bassam Rady said the period was extended to three months, according to state news agency MENA.
Mahamat visited Sudan for talks with the TMC ahead of his trip to Cairo. Last week, he met TMC member Jalal al-Deen al-Sheikh in Addis Ababa, who had delivered a letter from TMC head Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan addressing the situation in Sudan, Sudan’s state news agency SUNA said.
A Sudanese and a Western diplomat head earlier said the TMC wanted a three to six month period to continue discussions with protesters and opposition groups to hammer out an agreement on the transitional period.
The TMC resisted pressure to hand power to civilians, but said it was ready to accept a civilian technocrat government to run the country during an interim period of up to two years to prepare for a presidential election.
Protesters say the proposal would leave ultimate power in the hands of the military, demanding the ruling council be staffed by civilians with military representation.