Sudan’s Al Burhan promises measures to ease back into democratic transition

Military leader says he is working on release of detainees, easing state of emergency and reviewing court rulings that restored Al Bashir loyalists to government posts

Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, Sudan's military leader, offers concessions to pro-democracy groups opposing the takeover he led in October 2021. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Sudan’s military leader has promised measures to ease the country’s political crisis and create a climate for restoring the democratic transition he stopped when he seized power last October.

In an address to guests at a banquet on Friday night, Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan said that he and leaders of the judiciary were looking into the release “within two or three days” of activists and protesters arrested over the past five months.

Gen Al Burhan said their release would “prepare the climate for dialogue and allow the detainees to contribute with others to reaching a [political] consensus”.

He said he also instructed authorities to review the nationwide state of emergency he declared when he seized power on October 25.

Measures that safeguard national security and the economy would remain in effect.

Gen Al Burhan also promised a review of recent court rulings that reinstated scores of loyalists of Omar Al Bashir to government jobs they lost after the dictator was toppled.

We are embarking on a difficult period and we must all present concessions for the sake of our country
Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan

Besides derailing the democratic transition launched after the military’s removal of Al Bashir in 2019, the October coup resulted in near daily street protests against military rule in which millions have participated.

Security forces dealt violently with the rallies, killing at least 94 protesters and injuring about 3,000.

The violence against the protesters drew strong condemnation from western powers and cast doubts on Gen Al Burhan’s declared intention to work towards the restoration of the democratic transition.

Scores of people, including leading pro-democracy campaigners, have been detained.

The pro-democracy groups behind the protests have refused to hold talks with the military and are demanding that it quit politics altogether and be held accountable in court for overthrowing a legitimate government and killing protesters.

The coup has also wiped out the small economic gains made under the civilian-led government it removed, and prompted Sudan’s western backers, led by the US, EU and World Bank, to suspend billions of dollars’ worth of aid and debt forgiveness.

“We are embarking on a difficult period and we must all present concessions for the sake of our country,” Gen Al Burhan said on Friday.

“We are prepared to put forward what we can to create the atmosphere for a dialogue that leads to solutions.”

He has repeatedly said that the military is prepared to step aside and hand over power to an elected government. However, leaders of pro-democracy groups suspect the general has political ambitions of his own and that he and his associates were promoting political groups that would be beholden to them.

He has promised elections for next year.

Updated: April 16, 2022, 5:24 PM