Defiant Al-Burhan names new governing Sovereign Council

General al-Burhan remains head of the top body, with Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo also keeping his post as deputy.

Sudan’s army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who led a coup last month that removed the country’s transitional government, has issued a decree for the formation of a new governing Sovereign Council.

State television reported on Thursday that al-Burhan would remain the head of the council, while Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces who is also known as Hemeti, would keep his post as deputy.

The development came more than two weeks after the army dissolved the body, together with the civilian cabinet led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, in a power grab that was swiftly condemned by the international community.

The council was formed in 2019 as part of a power-sharing agreement between members of the army and civilians with the task of overseeing Sudan’s transition to democracy following the removal of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in the wake of a popular uprising.

The council had served as the country’s collective head of state, alongside Hamdok’s government which ran Sudan’s day-to-day affairs. Al-Burhan and Dagalo had been due to hand over its leadership to a civilian in the coming months.

The new council includes army commanders, former rebel leaders and new civilian members. A representative for the eastern Sudan region will join the council later after more political consultations, the state television said.

The announcement came amid national and international efforts to resolve the crisis in the wake of the coup, which sparked mass pro-democracy protests and led the United Nations, Western countries and Gulf states to call for the restoration of a civilian-led government.

Al-Burhan’s move reflects how “negotiations between the army and the Hamdok-led movement have failed terribly”, said Al Jazeera’s Resul Serdar, reporting from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. “This will have complications because the streets are demanding Hamdok to be back and the international community is putting pressure on al-Burhan to restore a civilian government and take Hamdok as its prime minister,” Serdar added.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday that UN Special Representative for Sudan Volker Perthes had met al-Burhan on Tuesday.

In the talks, the special representative called for “a return to the transitional partnership” and appealed to the military “to exercise restraint and to take de-escalation measures, including freeing all those people who have been detained and the prime minister who remains under house detention”, said Dujarric.

Since the October 25 coup, more than 100 government officials and political leaders, along with a large number of demonstrators and activists, have been arrested. The army also placed Hamdok under house arrest at his residence in Khartoum.

At least 14 anti-coup protesters have been killed due to excessive force used by the country’s security forces, according to Sudanese doctors and the United Nations. Al-Burhan has denied that the army was responsible for the death of protesters.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, al-Burhan said he was committed to handing over power to a civilian government, promising not to participate in any government that comes after the transitional period.

But the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a prominent pro-democracy group that was instrumental in the 2019 popular uprising, led a two-day civil disobedience and strike campaign earlier this week and has promised to continue protesting until a civilian government is established.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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