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The New Arab

Ethiopia prime minister meets protester leaders, generals in Khartoum

Protesters are furious over the massacre of civilians this week at a protest camp [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 June, 2019

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Ethiopia's prime minister is seeking to find a breakthrough in talks between the two sides in Sudan.
Ethiopia's prime minister met with protest leaders and ruling military generals in Sudan on Friday, after a bloody week in the capital Khartoum which saw over a hundred activists murdered by troops.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged "courage" as he held talks between the two sides and attempted to find a breakthrough in negotiations after weeks of wrangling.

The Ethiopian prime minister called for Sudanese to move towards a "democratic, inclusive transition", in a statement shared by the ruling by the ruling military council.

There was no comment from the Ethiopian prime minister's office or what demands were made in the talks.

Sudanese are furious over the military's forced dispersal of a protest camp on Monday, which medics said led to the killing of 113 protesters with theor bodies tied down with weights and dumped in the Nile.

The Rapid Support Forces government militia were blamed for the massacre.

RSF head General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo - better known as Hemedti - was "conspicuously absent" in photos shared by the Ethiopian prime minister's office of Ahmed's meeting with generals, according to Rashid Abdi, a former project director with the International Crisis Group.

"That is significant," he wrote on Twitter. "Lends credence to reports of push to sideline the RSF commander."

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

Read more: The Arab autocracies blocking Sudan's path to democracy

"We have received an invitation from the Ethiopian embassy to meet the Ethiopian prime minister at 11:00 am (0900 GMT) and we will go," prominent protest leader Omar al-Digeir said.

However, Sadiq Yusuf, Sudanese Communist party leader who is part of the opposition coalition, rejected any mediation efforts.

"Talks were open directly with the military council but now they have been shuttered after the massacre....the Alliance of Freedom of Change does not recognise the military council, an extension of the Bashir regime," he told The New Arab's Arabic sister publication.

Ethiopia has played a key role in brokering negotiations between military and pro-democracy leaders, as the chair of an eight-nation Horn of Africa regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which includes Sudan.

On Monday, Sudanese security forceslaunched a deadly crackdown on a weeks-long peaceful sit-in outside army headquarters in which more than 100 people were killed, according to protest leaders.

Officials have put the death toll at 61 nationwide. However, at least 45 corpses have been recovered from the River Nile, suggesting that the security forces tried to dispose of bodies in order to conceal the real number of protesters killed.

The massacre prompted Sudan's immediate suspension from the African Union, who also announced a boycott of the military leaders. It urged the formation of a Civilian-led Transitional Authority to guide the country out of its current crisis.

Meanwhile support for the military comes from powerful backers the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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