General Abdel Fattah Al-Bourhane, author of a military coup in Sudan at the end of October, appointed a new sovereignty council on Thursday, November 11, from which representatives of the bloc demanding a transfer of power were excluded. to civilians.
After the fall in 2019 of dictator Omar El-Bechir, a sovereignty council, then composed of civilians and soldiers, had been set up to oversee the transition to democracy under the presidency of General Al-Bourhane. But the latter dissolved, on October 25, all the institutions also declaring a state of emergency and arresting most of the country’s civilian leaders.
For days, the military had been announcing the training “Imminent” authorities to lead the country towards free elections. They only then claimed to have had to dismiss civilian leaders who did not agree with them on the path to be taken towards democracy. The government – of which several ministers are still detained and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok is under house arrest – has so far not been replaced and its members continue to claim to be the only authorities. “Legitimate” from the country.
General Al-Bourhane still chairman of the council
With his decree on Thursday evening, General Bourhane retains the presidency of the sovereignty council, state television announced. General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, known as “Hemedti”, at the head of a paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, accused of abuses in the Darfur region (west) or during the repression of the anti-Bechir revolt, remains his number two.
The new Sovereignty Council still has 14 members. However, only 13 names were announced by the Sudan TV presenter. The fourteenth member is to represent the east of the country, where protesters blocked Port Sudan and its docks for a month and a half. Of the thirteen names already announced, only four are new. Instead of the four representatives of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FLC), the union of civil forces born out of the anti-Bechir revolt, four non-partisan personalities were chosen.
Among them, Abu Al-Qassem Bortoum, a businessman who had pleaded for normalization with Israel, posed as a condition by Washington to remove Sudan from its blacklist of states supporting the “Terrorism”. Mr. Bortoum, 55, was a deputy under Omar El-Bechir and today manages agricultural and transport companies.
Another new member of the board: Salma Al-Mubarak, from a large Sufi family in Sudan. Without a political past, she is the second woman on the council with Raja Nicola, the representative of the Coptic Christian minority who retains her post. As for the nine members who remain on the sovereignty council, they are representatives of the army or armed rebel groups who signed peace with Khartoum at the end of 2020, after years of deadly conflicts in the four corners of the country.
The West calls for a “return to constitutional order”
The United Nations estimated on Thursday evening that these developments were “Very worrying”. “We want to see the resumption of the transition as soon as possible” and “The release of Prime Minister Hamdok, like that of other politicians and leaders who have been arrested”, added UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric during his daily press briefing.
For its part, the UN Security Council held a closed-door meeting on Sudan in the morning, scheduled for its working week. No joint statement followed this meeting. Moscow continued to support General Al-Bourhane during the meeting, stressing that the latter was essential to guarantee the stability of the country, a diplomat reported on condition of anonymity.
“We remain gravely concerned by reports of further unilateral actions by the military that go against the spirit and letter of the constitutional declaration”, however, British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said at the end of the meeting. On Thursday, UN envoy Volker Perthes told the council “In a very direct way that the window was now closing for dialogue and a peaceful resolution” of the crisis, she added.
On Tuesday, the three countries in the maneuver on the Sudanese file for years – Great Britain, the United States and Norway – had called on General Al-Bourhane not to take any action. “Unilateral decision”, also urging him to reinstate Prime Minister Hamdok in office. Then, on Thursday, European ambassadors met deposed Foreign Minister Mariam Al-Sadeq Al-Mahdi, once again asking “The return to constitutional order” and “The immediate release of detainees”, ministers, demonstrators, activists and even passers-by, arrested in recent weeks. Despite everything, these mass arrests did not weaken the determination of the supporters of a transfer of power to the civilian population. They call for a new “Manifestation of the million” Saturday.
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In Sudan, General Al-Bourhane appoints new sovereignty council