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Sudan’s Burhan says army is stepping down in favor of civilian rule

#Sudans #Burhan #army #stepping #favor #civilian #rule

Sudanese coup leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said Monday the army would give way to a civilian government and would not engage in national talks backed by the UN and regional blocs.

The decision was made “to make way for political and revolutionary forces and other national factions” to form a civilian government, he said, months after October’s coup ousted civilians from an interim administration.

The coup, the latest in the impoverished northeast African country, was followed by widespread international condemnation and aid cuts.

Burhan’s televised announcement surprised anti-coup protesters, hundreds of whom were on the fifth day of sit-in protests after last Thursday’s deadliest violence so far this year.

Pro-democracy medics said nine protesters were killed, bringing the total to 114 killed in the crackdown on anti-coup protesters since October.

Tens of thousands took to the streets on Thursday, almost as many at the height of the post-coup demonstrations. Although the nearly weekly rallies continued, they appeared to be diminishing in intensity before flaring up again last week with the same demand: an end to military rule.

“The armed forces will not stand in the way of the democratic transition,” Burhan said in his address, reaffirming the military’s commitment to “work towards elections where the Sudanese people choose who will govern them.”

In the weeks following the coup, military and civilian leaders had promised general elections in July 2023.

Sudan’s main civilian actors boycotted international-sponsored talks with military leaders last month to restore the transition.

The United Nations, the African Union and the regional bloc IGAD facilitated the dialogue.

– decision-making body is dissolved –

But Sudan’s main civilian bloc, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), ousted from power by the coup, and the influential Umma party refused to join.

Late Monday, the FFC held an “emergency meeting” to discuss its response to Burhan’s announcements, a source inside the FFC told AFP.

Also absent were members of resistance committees – informal groups that emerged during the 2018-2019 protests that ousted longtime strongman Omar al-Bashir and have spearheaded calls for recent anti-coup rallies.

Burhan said that “the formation of the executive government” would be followed by the “dissolution of the Sovereign Council” – the government body formed in 2019 under a fragile power-sharing deal between the army and civilians.

Although the coup thwarted the transition and severed the fragile alliance, the Sovereign Council continued to govern Sudan under Burhan’s rule.

“A Supreme Council of Armed Forces” will take its place, he said, bringing together the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary force commanded by Burhan’s deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

The RSF included members of the Janjaweed militia, accused by human rights groups of atrocities during the conflict that erupted in the western region of Darfur in 2003.

More recently, the RSF has been accused of taking part in crackdowns on anti-coup protesters.

The new Supreme Council will only be responsible for “defense and security issues,” Burhan said.

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