Sudan General Appoints New Government He Leads, And Protests Return To The Streets


Amid growing international pressure against the coup d’état in Sudan, the army chief and one of the movement’s leaders, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, on Thursday (11) appointed a new transitional council to command the country. One thing, however, does not change: it is the military who will continue to lead the nation.

The new Sovereign Council –a body that has existed since 2019 to prepare the country for democracy– will have 14 members. The group, according to the leader, includes civilians representing the Sudanese regions, but none are part of the political coalition of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) that shared power with the military before the coup. Burhan already headed the council before the movement.

The body also includes representatives of rebel groups that reached a peace agreement with the government last year. These opposed the coup d’état, since, in practice, it ended the arrangement of power sharing between the military and civilians established with the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir, in 2019. Before the coup, elections were expected to take place at the end of 2023.

Added to local and international discontent is the fact that Burhan’s deputy will continue to be Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Dagalo also held the post before the coup, but at the time the country was jointly led with civilian prime minister Abdallah Hamdok, detained during the takeover but released and placed under house arrest a day later.

Burhan and Dagalo were to hand over their leadership to a civilian in the coming months.

Aboulgasim Mohamed Burtum, a newly appointed council member and former parliamentarian, told Sky News that he hopes the new government will be welcomed. “We are civilians, and civilians are not just Hamdok,” he said.

Also on Thursday, the Sudanese doctor Mohamed Nagi Al-Assam, who stood out in the uprising against Bashir and was a strong critic of the coup, was arrested and taken to an unknown location, according to information from a union of doctors.

Amidst the authoritarian escalation, the country’s opposition, made up of civilian groups, is trying to resist through demonstrations, strikes and mass rallies – the next ones are scheduled for Saturday. On Thursday night, however, protesters closed roads and burned tires in several neighborhoods in the capital, Khartoum.

The Sudan Professionals Association, one of the organizations opposed to the military coup, said it did not recognize appointments to the new council. “They [integrantes do grupo] they have no legitimacy and will only be received with contempt and resistance,” the group said in a statement.

Sudan Information Minister Hamza Balloul, linked to the Hamdok government, said the announcement was an extension of the coup and that he was confident the Sudanese people could defeat it.

The United Nations, for its part, called Burhan’s movement “very worrying”. Reuters reported that, speaking behind closed doors at the UN Security Council, the institution’s envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, said that “the window is now closing for dialogue and a peaceful resolution.”

The military takeover took place on October 25, when Burhan assumed power and civilian leaders, including ministers and the prime minister, were arrested. Right after the coup, Sudanese took to the streets to protest, but subsequent demonstrations have been hampered by a nationwide mobile internet blackout.

On Thursday, a judge ordered two local telecommunications companies and providers to restore connections. Questioned by Reuters, the companies said they were working to rebuild the lines.

Hours after the coup, the White House suspended a billion-dollar aid package for the East African country and the World Bank halted its economic assistance, saying a deal to forgive tens of billions of dollars of foreign debt was at risk.

Days later, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Burhan to initiate a dialogue to restore the democratic transition. The talks were followed by the release of the imprisoned ministers.

The military tried to justify the coup out of fear of a civil war, without being able to garner support from a large part of the population. Weeks before the coup, Sudanese took to the streets to demand that the transfer of power from the military to civilians be speeded up, in acts fueled by a previous failed attempt to take power.


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