Sudan top general denies military could run in elections

AFP , Sunday 5 Dec 2021

Sudan's top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Sunday denied that military and paramilitary members of the transitional administration could run for the country's July 2023 elections.

file Photo: Sudan s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan speaks following a deal-signing ceremony with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok (unseen) to restore the transition to civilian rule in the country in the capital Khartoum. AFP

"The president of the Sovereign Council denied what the Agence France-Presse reported about the participation of the military in the upcoming elections," his office said in a statement.

Sudan has been run by a joint military-civilian ruling council since August 2019, but civilian members were changed following a coup in October this year.

AFP asked Burhan in an interview on Saturday whether the military components and the paramilitary members of the transitional Council will be able to participate in elections planned for 2023.

Burhan responded by saying the August 2019 deal had "included a clear clause that all participants of the transitional period will not be allowed to take part of the period that directly follows it."

But a landmark 2020 peace deal with rebel groups "granted some participants to the transitional period the right to become part of the government" that followed the transition, he said.

The statement issued on Sunday said Burhan meant that only ex-rebel groups which signed a peace deal in 2020 could be candidates in the planned elections.

Burhan , Sudan's de facto leader since the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019  removed the civilian government and declared a state of emergency on October 25, upending the planned three-year transition to full civilian rule.

Burhan's interview with AFP was one of a series he gave to international media a day after UN chief Antonio Guterres, in a report submitted to the Security Council, called Sudan hostile to journalists.

On November 21, Burhan signed a deal to reinstate Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok who was ousted in the military takeover and kept for weeks under house arrest.

The Burhan-Hamdok agreement was welcomed by the United Nations, the African Union, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It was also cautiously greeted by Britain and the United States.

But critics have lambasted it as "whitewashing" and accused Hamdok of "betrayal". Pro-democracy activists vowed to maintain pressure on the military-civilian authority.

The top general has long insisted the military's move on October 25 "was not a coup" but a step "to rectify the transition".

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