Al-Burhan proclaims himself leader of Sudan's new sovereign council

Despite the military's pledge to respect "the aspirations of the Sudanese people", the opposition has taken to the streets to protest against this decision and the coup d'état

 -   General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of the coup against the Transitional Executive of Abdalla Hamdok, has announced a new Sovereign Council with him at the helm. Earlier this month, an adviser to al-Burhan announced the "imminent" formation of a government.  

Prominent members of the new administration include Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), who has been appointed vice president. The RSF is a Sudanese militia officially established in 2013 under dictator Omar al-Bashir. However, the group's military actions date back to the Darfur conflict in 2003. The RSF, led by Daglo, also known as "Hemedti", has been accused of human rights abuses. They also played a key role during the June 2019 protests in Khartoum, where more than 100 people were killed and at least 700 injured, according to Amnesty International (AI). 

El general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announces new Sovereign Council

There are 13 other members of the new government, including former rebel leaders Malik Agar, Alhady Idris and Altaher Hagar. These three new members of the executive signed the Juba peace agreement in 2020, a historic treaty to end armed conflict in Sudan.  

There are also members of the former Council, such as Lieutenant Generals Shams Al-Din Kabbashi and Yasser Al-Atta, according to Asharq media. On the other hand, the northern region is led by Abu al-Qasim Bartam, while Khartoum is represented by Muhammad Abdul Qadir. The eastern region of Sudan, an area of great geo-strategic importance due to its access to the Red Sea, is still to be represented.   

Aboulgasim Mohamed Burtum, a former member of parliament, also sits on the Sovereign Council. Burtum told Sky News that he hoped the new government would be well received. "We are civilians, civilians are not just Hamdok," he said. Al-Burhan's announcement has not been without controversy, as, among other things, the executive excludes several representatives of the democratic transition, including members of the Forces for Freedom and Change, the organisation that led the protests against Al-Bashir. "These exclusions show how the negotiations between the army and Hamdok have failed terribly," explains Resul Serdar, Al Jazeera's Sudan correspondent.  

AFP/ASHRAF SHAZLY - El primer ministro sudanés, Abdalla Hamdok
AFP/ASHRAF SHAZLY - Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok

"This will be complicated by the fact that the streets are demanding Hamdok's return and the international community is putting pressure on Al-Burhan to restore a civilian government with Hamdok as prime minister," Serdar adds. 

Hamza Balloul, former Minister of Information, said that the creation of a Sovereign Council was "an extension of the coup". He is also confident that the Sudanese people will be able to overthrow it. In fact, some Sudanese citizens have demonstrated against al-Burhan's decision, continuing the protests that began days after the coup. 

In Khartoum, protesters burned tyres and blocked roads. "The decisions of Al-Burhan and his council apply only to themselves, have no legitimacy and will be met only with contempt and resistance," stressed the Sudan Professionals Association (SPA), one of the organisations leading the civilian marches.  

AFP/AFP - Mapa del Sudán y sus países vecinos
AFP/AFP - Map of Sudan and its neighbouring countries

Despite the social unrest, Al-Burhan has pledged to "accelerate the formation of a government of civilian and democratic powers and maintain a dialogue with all political forces for a safe exit from the current political crisis". According to EFE, he has also expressed his desire to respect "the aspirations of the Sudanese people" and to "protect the revolution" that ended with the overthrow of Al-Bashir in 2019.  

Sudan has been in the international spotlight since the 25 October coup. Unsurprisingly, international organisations and governments have expressed concern following Al-Burhan's recent announcement. Volker Peretz, special representative of the UN secretary general, warned that this move "makes it difficult to return to constitutional order". He also stressed the "importance of reaching an urgent solution through negotiations to return to normal political and economic life"

sudan golpe de estado
Photo/File - Sudan demonstrates against the coup d'état

Regarding the planned protests, Peretz urged the country's authorities to allow them and to act with "restraint". He called for the release of Hamdok and all political prisoners, as well as "the restoration of internet service and to refrain from taking unilateral measures that contradict the spirit of transitional partnership".  

"The current developments in Sudan remain very worrying. We demand the immediate release of all those who represent the spirit and hope of the Sudanese revolution and must not be betrayed," French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on his Twitter account.  

Following the coup, the World Bank and the United States suspended economic assistance to the country, aid that was intended for Sudan's development and recovery