Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met Sudan’s military rulers and opposition leaders in Khartoum yesterday, and held separate talks in a bid to ease the political tensions that have followed the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir.
The Ethiopian initiative follows the worst bloodshed in Sudan since Al-Bashir was ousted by the military in April after four months of protests against his repressive three-decade rule.
The opposition says 113 people were killed in the storming of a civilian protest camp on Monday and a subsequent wider crackdown.
The government put the toll at 61 people, including three security personnel.
At Khartoum airport, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was greeted by Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi, spokesman for Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council.
Mr Ahmed later hosted a meeting at the Ethiopian Embassy with the opposition Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces Alliance.
Mr Ahmed’s office said: “Ethiopia expresses its commitment to fostering peace in the region and underlined that a prerequisite for restoring peace in Sudan is unity”.
Both sides had been in talks for weeks over who should lead Sudan’s transition to democracy. But the already faltering negotiations collapsed in the wake of this week’s crackdown.
Mr Ahmed, who took office in Ethiopia last year and introduced political and economic reforms, has won wide praise for his diplomacy skills, including brokering peace with his country’s neighbour and long-time foe Eritrea.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the African Union suspended Sudan until the establishment of civilian rule, intensifying global pressure on the military leaders to stand down.
The United Nations and several governments have also condemned the bloodshed.