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Sudan: Burhan announces new Sovereignty Council

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Friday, 12 November 2021 15:12

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan at a press conference in Paris in May 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/Pool

On 11 November, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announced that a new Sovereignty Council, headed by himself, would be established. Several figures who were calling for a rapid transfer of power to civilians have been removed from it.

On 11 November, two weeks after the 25 October coup took place and despite pressure from the international community, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Senegalese army, formed a new 14-member Sovereignty Council. This body, which will be chaired by General al-Burhan, will henceforth lead the country.

Several civil society organisations have vowed that they will lead a campaign of civil disobedience, which will include strikes and large-scale rallies, in response to this move. That same day, protesters blocked roads and burned tires in parts of Khartoum, the centre of pro-democracy protests over the past two years. The Internet is still cut off in the Sudanese capital.

The army is tightening its grip

In recent months, the military had repeatedly said that they would step aside for civilians, just like they had pledged to do after President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown on 11 April 2019. However, the army’s announcement on state television on Thursday proves that it has strengthened its grip on power and has no intention of giving it up.

Burhan also announced that he was keeping Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (“Hemeti”), commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), as his number two. The men who make up this powerful paramilitary group have been repeatedly accused of abuses, including during the uprising that helped remove al-Bashir from power.

Three generals from the previous 11-member Sovereignty Council have also kept their positions. Alongside them on the new council are representatives from the rebel groups that negotiated a peace deal with the government last year, as well as figures from the country’s different regions.

The UN has expressed “grave concern”

The 25 October coup put an end to the power-sharing agreement, which was concluded in 2019 and had planned for elections to be held at the end of 2023, between the army and civilians. However, the government members have not been replaced and several of them are still being detained in Khartoum.

Abdallah Hamdok, the transitional prime minister who was arrested in the wake of the coup, has since been released and placed under house arrest.

Several sources told Reuters that attempts have been made to secure the release of political prisoners and restore power-sharing. However, no progress has been made following indirect talks between Hamdok and the army.

The UN has expressed “grave concern.”

“We want the transitional government to resume as soon as possible,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, calling for Hamdok and all those detained in the wake of the 25 October events to be released. The Security Council also met behind closed doors on Thursday to discuss the situation in Sudan.

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