Sudanese general tightens grip on power following coup

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Sudanese General Tightens Grip On Power Following Coup Sudanese General Tightens Grip On Power Following Coup
General Abdel-Fattah Burhan speaks during a press conference in Khartoum last month, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Fay Abuelgasim and Noha Elhennawy, Associated Press

Sudan’s top general has reappointed himself as head of the army-run interim governing body, in a sign that he is tightening his grip on the country two weeks after he led a coup against civilian leaders.

The move by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan was announced by Sudan’s state television.

The development comes amid repeated promises from the military that they will hand over power to civilian authorities.

Since the October 25 coup, more than 100 government officials and political leaders have been detained, together with a large number of protesters and activists.


People chant slogans in Khartoum, amid ongoing demonstrations against the military takeover (Marwan Ali/AP)

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.

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Sudan has been in the midst of a fragile transition since a 2019 pro-democracy uprising led to the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

The 11-member Sovereign Council was first formed in the summer of 2019, after the military signed a power-sharing deal with pro-democracy forces.

A number of other members of the body have also sat on the previous council that Gen Burhan headed before he dissolved it in last month’s coup.

Also reappointed to the body on Thursday was the powerful paramilitary leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, as vice-president.

Gen Burhan also reappointed as council members another three generals who had served in the previous council, according to the state TV.


Pro-democracy groups want the deposed transitional government to be reinstated (Marwan Ali/AP)

Eight civilians, including one from the previous council, were also appointed.

The agreement under which the council was formed after Mr al-Bashir was removed stipulated that the council should include five civilians chosen by activists, five military representatives chosen by the armed forces and one civilian member to be chosen in agreement between civilians and the generals.

The make-up of the new council falls short of the demands of key pro-democracy groups in the African country.

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The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the main group that spearheaded the uprising that culminated in the overthrow of Mr al-Bashir, has said that it will oppose the reappointment of Gen Burhan to the top decision-making position.

Before the coup, the Sovereign Council held ultimate power while the government of the now-deposed prime minister Abdalla Hamdok oversaw day-to-day matters. Since the coup, Mr Hamdok has remained under house arrest in the capital, Khartoum, as Western powers and UN diplomats try to mediate a resolution to the crisis.

The coup in Sudan has been condemned by the United Nations, the US and the European Union – all of which have urged the generals to restore a military-civilian transitional government. Mediation efforts are ongoing to resolve the crisis.

On Wednesday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that UN Special Representative for Sudan Volker Perthes had met the previous day with Gen Burhan.


UN secretary general Antonio Guterres had spoken with deposed prime minister Abdalla Hamdok earlier in the week (Alberto Pezzali/AP)

In the talks, the special representative urged 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,” Mr Dujarric said.

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Mr Dujarric also said the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres had spoken with Mr Hamdok earlier in the week.

An advocacy group said internet access remained largely disrupted in the country since the military coup, despite a court order for providers to restore services.

According to a tweet by NetBlocks, the disruption was now in its eighteenth day and represented an “ongoing impediment” to democracy and human rights.

A Sudanese court ruled on Wednesday, ordering the country’s three main telecommunications providers to restore internet access.

But authorities have not yet shown any sign of carrying out that order.

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