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Sudan conflict: Army and civilians form sovereign council

Sudan conflict: Army and civilians form sovereign council

  • 20 August 2019
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Ahmed al-Rabie and Hemeti sign the dealImage copyright

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Last weekend saw the two sides sign a deal paving the way for civilian rule

Sudan’s military leaders and opposition alliance have formed a sovereign council to lead the country during its three-year transition to civilian rule.

Made up of six civilians and five military officers, it will initially be led by Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan.

He took over as Sudanese leader following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir.

The council will be sworn in on Wednesday morning.

A prime minister is expected to be sworn in later that day.

The latest moves were announced by a spokesman for the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC).

The TMC took over from Mr Bashir in April. Sudan has subsequently seen pro-democracy protests and security crackdowns.

Why is this happening?

Sudan’s ruling military council and civilian opposition alliance signed a power-sharing deal at the weekend.

The agreement included the setting up of the sovereign council, and the rotation of its chairmanship of the council for just over three years.

It is designed to pave the way towards elections and civilian rule.

General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagolo, widely regarded as Sudan’s most powerful man, has pledged to abide by the terms of the deal.

How did the crisis unfold?

It can be traced back to December 2018, when then President Bashir’s government imposed emergency austerity measures.

Cuts to bread and fuel subsidies sparked demonstrations in the east over living standards, and the anger spread to the capital.

The protests broadened into demands for the removal of Mr Bashir, who had been in charge for 30 years.

In April, the president was overthrown by the military after sit-ins outside the defence ministry, but demonstrators then wanted to ensure authority was swiftly transferred to a civilian administration.

A council of generals led by Gen Abdelrahman Burhan assumed power, but it has struggled to return the country to normality.

The army is not a unified force in Sudan; paramilitary organisations and various Islamist militias hold some sway.

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by Hemeti – which grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militia that was accused of carrying out a genocide in the Darfur region of western Sudan – have been blamed for recent abuses.

These include the 3 June massacre during which more than 120 people were reportedly killed, with many of the dead dumped in the River Nile.

RSF leaders have denied planning the killings, which they say were carried out by rogue elements.