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Members of Sudan's security forces patrol on June 6, 2019 in Khartoum. Image Credit: AFP

Addis Ababa: The African Union on Thursday suspended Sudan, demanding a civilian-led transition authority to resolve the crisis which has claimed over 100 lives.

“The AU Peace and Security Council has with immediate effect suspended the participation of the Republic of Sudan in all AU activities until the effective establishment of a Civilian-led Transitional Authority, as the only way to allow the Sudan to exit from the current crisis,” the AU posted on Twitter.

The UAE, which has been a key supporter of Sudan’s ruling generals, called Thursday for resumed talks on its political future following a deadly crackdown on protesters.

The military council, which ousted longtime president Omar Al Bashir on April 11, had offered on Wednesday to reopen negotiations.

But the offer was rejected by protest leaders who demanded justice for the 108 people doctors say have been killed since Monday in the crackdown by the feared paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces.

“The UAE hopes that wisdom, reason and constructive dialogue will prevail between all Sudanese parties, in a way that guarantees security and stability,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.

“The UAE emphasises the importance of resuming talks among various Sudanese forces to realise the aspirations of the brotherly people of Sudan,” it added.

The Emirati statement echoed a call for resumed negotiations issued by its ally Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

While African and Western governments have been strongly supportive of the protesters, Riyadh and its allies, which are deeply hostile to popular movements in the region, have provided the military council with desperately needed aid.

Last month, the UAE deposited $250 million in Sudan’s central bank, part of a promised $3 billion credit line Abu Dhabi and Riyadh have pledged to shore up the plummeting Sudanese pound and finance imports of basic goods.

On Thursday, Sudan’s pro-democracy leaders vowed to press their campaign of civil disobedience until the ruling military council steps aside.

The pledge comes after new clashes brought the death toll in three days of the military crackdown to 108.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella of union groups that has been behind months of rallies that forced the military to oust longtime autocrat Al Bashir, urged people to block main roads and bridges to “paralyse public life” across the country in retaliation for the military’s crackdown.

The crackdown began with a violent dispersal of the protest movement’s main sit-in camp, outside the military headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, on Monday.

“Our success depends on our full adherence to peaceful protests, no matter how hard the criminal militias seek to drag us into violence,” the association said in a Facebook statement on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s military-controlled health ministry is disputing the death toll of 108 killed in the crackdown. The ministry’s undersecretary, Soliman Abdel Gaber, issued a statement insisting that only 46 people died in this week’s violence.

Before Monday’s crackdown began, the military and protest leaders had for weeks negotiated the makeup of a transitional council meant to run the country until elections. The protesters demanded civilians dominate the council, which the generals resisted.

After the crackdown, the military suspended the talks and canceled all agreed-on points. It also announced the military would form a government and hold elections within seven to nine months.

But the head of the military council, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, then on Wednesday abruptly announced the generals were prepared to resume negotiations- an offer the protesters immediately turned down.

In Moscow, a top diplomat said Russia - which has largely stayed on the sidelines of the crisis in Sudan - opposes “any foreign intervention” and believes a compromise is needed.

Mikhail Bogdanov, chief of the foreign ministry’s Middle East desk, told local news agencies that Russian diplomats are in touch with all political players in Sudan, including the opposition. Bogdanov visited Khartoum earlier this year.