Sudanese general al-Burhan says the army is withdrawing from the government

Sudanese coup leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said the army would give way to a civilian government, withdraw from ongoing political talks and allow political and revolutionary groups to form a government of transition.

The general’s statements on Monday follow a deadly week for Sudan’s pro-democracy movement as large-scale protests demanding an end to military rule have continued in the Khartoum region since Thursday.

Nine people have been killed and at least 629 injured in the security forces’ crackdown on protests, according to the Sudanese Doctors’ Committee, which has been monitoring protest victims.

“The armed forces will not stand in the way” of democratic transition, al-Burhan said in a televised speech, affirming the army’s commitment to work for “elections in which the Sudanese people will choose who will rule them”.

The ruling sovereign council, headed by al-Burhan and made up of military and civilian members, will be dissolved after the new government is formed, he said.

A new Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will be established after the formation of the government and it will be responsible for security and defense tasks and “related responsibilities” in agreement with the government, the military leader said.

The army’s withdrawal from the political talks was aimed at allowing political and revolutionary groups to form the technocratic government, he said.

Al-Burhan called on the groups to start “an immediate and serious dialogue…that puts everyone back on the path of democratic transition.” The army will commit to implementing the results of the dialogue, he said, although he did not specify what political role the armed forces will have in the future.

“Very clear on their demands”

Since the military took power in October 2021, authorities have responded to near-weekly street protests with a deadly crackdown that has so far killed 113 people, including 18 children, observers said.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from the Sudanese capital Khartoum, said protesters were “very clear on their demands” that they “don’t want the military to stay in power”.

General al-Burhan’s statement is unlikely to appease those protesting against the military, Morgan said.

“With the statement of the army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, it is clear that the army will remain in control until the political parties reach some kind of consensus to form a transitional government and set a deadline for the election,” Morgan said.

“This does not please the protesters. They have been demanding, for seven months now, that they want to see the army withdrawn before they see any form of negotiation between political parties to form a civilian-led transitional government,” she said.

“As far as political parties go, they’ve had problems getting to that consensus,” Morgan added.

“And let’s not forget that on the day of the takeover, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said that it was the political differences between the parties that led the army to take power and dissolve the transitional government. supposed to lead Sudan to democracy”.

Since the coup that brought al-Burhan to power, the United Nations political mission in Sudan, the African Union and the group of eight countries of the East African Regional Intergovernmental Authority for development tried to find a way out of the political deadlock. But the talks have yielded no results so far.

Pro-democracy groups have repeatedly said they will not negotiate with the army and called on them to immediately hand over the reins to a civilian government.

The demonstrators were unmoved by the general’s words, and in the Burri district of Khartoum, more demonstrators emerged immediately after al-Burhan’s televised speech.

“We don’t trust Burhan,” said Muhannad Othman, perched on a barricade erected by protesters. “We just want him gone once and for all.”

A protester from central Khartoum, Oumeima Hussein, said al-Burhan should be “on trial for everyone who has been killed since the coup” and vowed that the protesters “will overthrow him as we have made with Bashir”.

Sudan has been in turmoil since a military coup halted its short transition to democracy after 30 years of repressive rule by former strongman Omar al-Bashir.

Al-Bashir and the government were overthrown by the military in a popular uprising in April 2019.

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