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AU Commission Head Plans 'Immediate' Ceasefire Mission

FILE - People carrying their belongings walk along a street in Khartoum on April 16, 2023, as fighting between the forces of 2 rival generals continues.

NAIROBI — African Union commission head Moussa Faki Mahamat is planning to "immediately" go on a ceasefire mission to Sudan, the body said Sunday, as fighting raged for a second day between the army and paramilitaries.

Following an emergency meeting, the AU said in a statement that it "requests the chairperson of the AU commission to continue using his good offices to engage with the parties to the conflict in order to facilitate dialogue and peaceful resolution of the conflict in Sudan; and commends his commitment to immediately travel to Sudan to engage the parties towards a ceasefire."

No further details were immediately available on the mission.

Expressing "grave concern and alarm," the pan-African body also called on the forces of the two battling sides to "protect civilians especially women and children."

The AU statement also demanded that the warring sides "swiftly embrace a peaceful solution and inclusive dialogue to resolve their differences" and said it "strongly rejects any external interference that could complicate the situation in Sudan."

The United States, China, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the U.N. Security Council, European Union and African Union have appealed for a quick end to the hostilities that threaten to worsen instability in an already volatile wider region.

Violence in Sudan erupted early Saturday after weeks of power struggles between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, commander of the heavily-armed paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Sudan's army appeared to gain the upper hand on Sunday in a bloody power struggle with rival paramilitary forces after blasting its bases with air strikes, witnesses said, and at least 59 civilians were killed including three United Nations workers.

Sudan's armed forces announced they had "agreed to a U.N. proposal to open safe passage for humanitarian cases," including the evacuation of wounded, for three hours from 1400 GMT, on the second day of fighting with paramilitaries.

The heavily-armed RSF also put out a statement that they had agreed to the measure, though they said it would last four hours, and both sides maintained their right to "respond in the event of transgressions" from the other side.

Some information in this report came from Reuters.