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  • Leader of Sudan's transitional council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Abdelrahman Burhan looks on as military and civilian members of Sudan's new ruling body, the Sovereign Council, are sworn in at the presidential palace in Khartoum, Sudan, August 21, 2019.

    Leader of Sudan's transitional council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Abdelrahman Burhan looks on as military and civilian members of Sudan's new ruling body, the Sovereign Council, are sworn in at the presidential palace in Khartoum, Sudan, August 21, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 August 2019

“With the start of the transition period, we have entered the most complex phase, the phase of building and reform."

The head of Sudan's now defunct military council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was sworn in on Wednesday as leader of the new Sovereign Council that will run the country for three years until an election after decades of autocratic rule.

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General Burhan, who played a key role in the overthrow of ex-President Omar Al-Bashir in April, has headed the military council that took control of the country after months of protests.

However, General Burhan's leadership has been called in to question because of his refusal to yield power to the protesters, despite repeated demands. 

While the Sudanese people celebrated Bashir’s fall in April, they have also pressed for a handover of power to civilians during a turbulent period of protests and violence, including a crackdown on a protest camp outside the Defence Ministry that opposition medics say killed more than 100 people in June.

The makeup of the 11-member Sovereign Council that will run the country for the transition period, superseding the military council which has been disbanded, was completed on Tuesday, comprising six civilian and five military figures.

Nine members of the council were sworn in about two hours after Burhan took the oath on Wednesday. The final member, Mohamed al-Hassan al-Taishi, will be sworn in at a later, unspecified date, state news agency SUNA said.

However, some opposition members and analysts expressed concern that the power-sharing deal may fall short of expectations in a country where the military, backed by Islamists, has dominated for decades.

“With the start of the transition period, we have entered the most complex phase, the phase of building and reform,” said Al-Rashed Saeed, spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association, a key part of the Forces for Freedom and Change coalition that negotiated with the military council.

Among the military men sworn in were General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commonly known as Hemedti, outgoing deputy head of the military council. Hemedti has become a growing political force in Sudan and some analysts say he hopes to become president.

Hemedti heads the Rapid Support Forces, a widely feared paramilitary group that has a heavy presence in Khartoum and stands accused of atrocities against civilians in the Darfur war. Bashir’s government denied the charges.

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