Egypt Tuesday hosted African leaders for summit talks on the upheavals in Sudan and Libya, as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned against “a slide into chaos”.
Sisi called for a coherent regional response, as protests continue in Khartoum despite the toppling of Omar al-Bashir earlier this month and as strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces bear down on Tripoli.
“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.
The gathered leaders were to focus on “the evolution of the situation in Sudan”, Sisi’s office said.
“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, which took power after Bashir was deposed, 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 three billion dollars (2.7 billion euros) in financial support for Khartoum.
Attendees in Cairo 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, Egypt’s presidency flagged on Monday.
The leaders of South Africa and Somalia, among the first to arrive, held separate meetings with the Egyptian president before the first summit on Sudan.
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.
It has echoed protesters’ demands, saying “a military-led transition would be completely contrary to the aspirations of the people of Sudan”.
Discussions in Cairo on Tuesday will also seek to “stem the current crisis” in Libya, Egypt’s presidency said.
The summits are the first to be convened by African leaders on the current crises in Sudan and Libya.
The AU suspended Egypt and the Central African Republic in 2013 following coups in both countries. Both have since had their membership restored.
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.
– ‘Elimination of terrorism’ –
The summit on Libya, which will group the leaders of Rwanda, South Africa and the Republic of Congo with Sisi, will focus on “relaunching a political process… (and) the elimination of terrorism”, Egypt’s presidency said.
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 Moamer Kadhafi and a series of international efforts have so far failed to unite the country.