Sudan’s premier general said on Monday that the country’s military would withdraw from talks to resolve the ongoing political crisis following last year’s coup, allowing civil society representatives to take their place.
In televised statements broadcast on Sudan’s state television, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan also promised that he would dissolve the sovereign council he heads once a new transitional government is formed. The council has governed the country since the military came to power in a coup last year.
Since the coup, the UN political mission in Sudan, the African Union and the eight-nation Intergovernmental Authority on East African Regional Development have been trying to find a way out of the political impasse. But the talks have not yielded any result so far. Pro-democracy groups have repeatedly said they will not negotiate with the military, and have called for it to immediately hand over the reins to a civilian government.
Burhan did not specify a date or who would replace Sena at the negotiating table. After the ruling council is dissolved, he said, the army and the powerful paramilitary force known as the Rapid Support Force will be placed under a new governing body responsible for the country’s defense and security.
Sudan has since plunged into turmoil as the military takeover sustains its short-lived transition to democracy after three decades of repressive rule by former strongman Omar al-Bashir. The military ousted al-Bashir and his Islamist-backed government in a popular uprising in April 2019.
Burhan’s statements come after a deadly week for the country’s pro-democracy protesters. Nine people were killed and at least 629 wounded by security forces in anti-military demonstrations on Thursday, according to Sudan’s Doctors Committee, which tracked protest casualties.
Sudan’s military officials have faced almost weekly street protests since the coup, which has so far killed 113 people, including 18 children.
Western governments have repeatedly called on generals to allow peaceful protests, but have also angered the pro-democracy movement to join forces with prominent generals.