Sudan’s leading general said on Monday that the country’s army would withdraw from negotiations aimed at resolving the ongoing political crisis following a coup last year, so that representatives of civil society would take their place.
In television statements broadcast on Sudan’s state television, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan also promised to dissolve the sovereign council he leads after a new transitional government is formed. The council has ruled the country since the military took over in a coup last year.
Since the coup, the UN’s political mission in Sudan, the African Union and the East African regional intergovernmental authority on the development of eight countries have sought a way out of the political stalemate. But talks so far have yielded no results. Pro-democracy groups have repeatedly said they will not negotiate with the military, and have demanded that it immediately hand over the reins to a civilian government.
Burhan did not specify any dates or who would replace the military at the negotiating table. After the ruling council was dissolved, he said, the army and the powerful paramilitary known as the Rapid Support Forces would be placed under a new governing body responsible for the country’s defense and security.
Sudan has been plunged into unrest since the military takeover lifted its short-lived transition to democracy after three decades of repressive rule by former strongman Omar al-Bashir. The army removed al-Bashir and his Islamist-backed government in a popular uprising in April 2019.
Burhan’s remarks come after a deadly week for the country’s pro-democracy protesters. On Thursday, nine people were killed and at least 629 injured by security forces in anti-military protests, according to Sudan’s doctors’ committee, which detained protesters.
Sudanese military authorities have met the almost weekly street protests since the coup with a crackdown that has so far killed 113 people, including 18 children.
Western governments have repeatedly called on the generals to allow peaceful protests, but have also angered the pro-democracy movement for engaging with the leading generals.