General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who has ruled Sudan since an October 25 coup, announced yesterday that he wanted to allow a government to be formed by politicians, during the fifth day of a sit-in by pro-democracy protesters.
In a televised speech, the head of Sudan’s army and the first to speak to the Sovereignty Council – the country’s highest authority – announced that “the army will no longer participate in the national dialogue” that has been launched under the auspices of the UN and the African Union in particular in order to allow political formations to set up a “government composed of competent personalities”.
“After the formation of (…) we will dissolve the Dominion Council and form a supreme council of the armed forces” which will include the paramilitary groups and will no longer be responsible for matters other than “defense and security”.
General Burhan called on the political formations to start a serious dialogue in order for the country to return to the path of democratic transition, stressing that the army will be committed to implementing the results of the dialogue.
In 2019, under pressure from the street, the military overthrew dictator Omar al-Bashir and then shared power with politicians aiming to lead the country to its first free elections after 30 years of dictatorship.
But on October 25, General Burhan arrested the politicians he co-ruled with and plunged Sudan into violence and a deep economic crisis, as the international community suspended humanitarian aid to the country.
Although Sudanese have been holding pro-democracy protests every week since the coup of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the movement took on new life on Thursday.
Then — the three-year anniversary of the uprising that toppled Omar al-Bashir — tens of thousands of Sudanese took to the streets to demonstrate.
The security forces used real bullets against them. Toll: nine protesters dead, hundreds injured and as many arrested, according to the pro-democracy doctors’ union. In total since October 114 protesters have lost their lives and thousands have been injured.
Since Friday, protesters have not abandoned sit-ins in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, as well as the northeastern suburb of North Khartoum.
So far the Forces for Freedom and Change (FLC), a mainstay of the civilian government ousted by the military, has refused to participate in the national dialogue.
“We do not have an interlocutor”, repeated their executives, while the political parties and resistance committees, which organize the demonstrations, assured that they do not wish to discuss before the end of the repression and the release of the arrested.
Yesterday’s speech completely changed the situation.
The FLCs held an emergency meeting last night to decide how to proceed following Burhan’s announcement.
It is not yet known how the protesters will react, who from the beginning of the coup had a single slogan: “no collusion, no negotiation” with the generals.