Africa leaders meet for first time over Sudan, Libya crises

Tuesday April 23 2019

A handout picture provided by the Egyptian

A handout picture provided by the Egyptian Presidency on April 23, 2019 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) receiving South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa during summit talks with African leaders on the upheavals in Sudan and Libya, in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Sisi called for a coherent regional response as protests continue in Khartoum and as strongman Khalifa Haftar's forces bear down on Tripoli. PHOTO | EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY | AFP  

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Seven African presidents on Tuesday met for the first time in Cairo, Egypt in a belated effort to seek a coherent regional approach to the crises in Sudan and Libya.

Their host, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, warned against "a slide into chaos" in a statement released before the talks.
President al-Sisi is the President of the Africa Union which has given the Transitional Military Council in Sudan until the end of the month to hand over to a civilian government.

The council has been in office since protests over dictatorship and economic distress forced former leader Omar al-Bashir to step down.

Attendees in the Cairo summit include Chadian President Idriss Deby, Rwanda's head of state Paul Kagame, Congo's Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Somalia's Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa and Djibouti's leader Ismail Omar Guelleh. AU commission chair Moussa Faki is also expected to participate in the Cairo discussions, along with officials from Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria.

The summits are the first to be convened by African leaders on the current crises in Sudan and Libya.

Mr Sisi called for a coherent regional response as protests continued in Khartoum and as strongman Khalifa Haftar's forces bear down on Tripoli.

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The leaders, he said, were to focus on "the evolution of the situation in Sudan."

On Libya the summit will seek to "stem the current crisis, to relaunch a political process (and) the elimination of terrorism."

"The principle of African solutions to African problems is the only way to deal with common challenges facing us," Sisi said in opening remarks to the summit on Sudan, according to Egypt's presidency.
"We are taking into account the efforts the Sudanese transitional military council has taken as well as the civil and political forces... to overcome this critical juncture," Sisi said.
Sudan's military council has so far resisted calls from protesters to stand aside immediately for a civilian administration.
Sisi cautioned Sudanese political actors to "safeguard the state's institutions...in order to prevent a slide into chaos".

Last month, he warned against the dangers created by protests, but fell short of explicitly naming Sudan, or Algeria, where demonstrations have toppled long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
The Egyptian president also called on the international community to "shoulder the pressing economic burden" created by Sudan's challenges.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Sunday announced $3 billion in financial support for Khartoum.
The AU on April 15 threatened to suspend Sudan if the military does not hand over power within 15 days of that date to a civilian authority.
The AU suspended Egypt and the Central African Republic in 2013 following coups in both countries.

Both have since had their membership restored.

Libya strongman Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive against Tripoli, the seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord, on April 4.
The battle in the south of the capital between the LNA and forces aligned with the GNA has so far left more than 260 dead and wounded more than 1,200 others, according to the World Health Organization.
The United Nations says the Haftar offensive has also displaced more than 30,000 people.
Egypt is a strong ally of Haftar, who is also backed by the UAE and -- according to the White House -- was consulted by US President Donald Trump in a phone call last week.

Before the launch of the Tripoli assault, Faki had said the AU would host a "reconciliation" conference in July aimed at uniting Libya's political rivals.

Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Ghadafi and a series of international efforts have so far failed to unite the country.

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