Sudanese coup leader tightens grip by reappointing himself leader of council | Sudan

Sudan’s supreme general has reappointed himself as head of the military-run interim government, a sign that he is tightening his grip two weeks after leading a coup against civilian leaders.

There was no immediate reaction from pro-democracy groups to the movement of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, which was announced by Sudan’s state television.

The development comes even though the military has promised to hand over power to civilian authorities.

The Sudanese military seized power on October 25, disbanding the country’s transitional government and detaining more than 100 government officials and political leaders along with a large number of protesters and activists. Almost all are still in custody. The army also placed the country’s prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, under house arrest at his home in the capital, Khartoum.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has appointed himself head of the sovereign council Photo: Sarah Meyssonnier / Reuters

Since the seizure of power, at least 14 anti-coup protesters have been killed by security forces, according to Sudanese doctors and the UN.

Sudan had been in a fragile transition period after a pro-democracy uprising in 2019 led to the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir from power. The 11-member sovereign council was formed in the summer of 2019 after the military signed a power-sharing agreement with pro-democratic forces, but was dissolved in last month’s coup.

On Thursday, a number of members who previously sat on the council were reappointed along with the powerful paramilitary leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who was made Vice President. State television said Burhan also reappointed three more generals who had served on the previous council and eight civilians, including one from the previous council.

The original agreement stipulated that the council should include five civilians elected by activists, five military representatives and one member to be elected by agreement between civilians and generals. The composition of the new council does not live up to the demands of key pro-democracy groups. The Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the main group that led the uprising that culminated in Bashir’s overthrow, have said they will oppose Burhan’s reappointment to the top decision-making position.

Abdalla Hamdok
The Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, is under house arrest. Photo: Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters

Before the coup, the sovereign council, led by Burhan, had the ultimate power, while the government of the then prime minister, Hamdok, oversaw day-to-day affairs. Since the coup, Hamdok has been under house arrest as Western powers and UN diplomats try to mediate a solution to the crisis.

The coup has been condemned by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, which have called on generals to restore a military-civilian transitional government.

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