Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan appoints new ruling council

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan attends a news conference during the International Conference in support of Sudan at the Temporary Grand Palais in Paris, France.

Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has formed a new transitional council, headed by himself, to lead the country following the military takeover late last month, state media reported on Thursday.

The new 14-member Sovereign Council, for which one member is yet to be named, includes civilians representing Sudan’s regions but none from the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) political coalition that had been sharing power with the military since 2019.

Burhan’s deputy will remain Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), with both men keeping roles they held before the coup.

The move is likely to harden opposition among civilian groups who have pledged to resist the takeover through a campaign of civil disobedience, strikes and mass rallies, the next of which is planned for Saturday.

The council also includes representatives of rebel groups that reached a peace deal with the government last year but had rejected the coup in a statement this week.

The October 25 takeover ended a power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilians set up after the overthrow of former president Omar al-Bashir in 2019, that was meant to lead to elections in late 2023.

Some senior civilians have been detained and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been under house arrest.

The previous council had served as Sudan’s collective head of state, alongside Hamdok’s government which ran Sudan’s day-to-day affairs. Burhan and Dagalo had been due to hand over its leadership to a civilian in the coming months.

Mediation aimed at securing the release of detainees and a return to power sharing has stalled since the coup as the military moved to consolidate control. Political sources said on Thursday that there had been no progress in indirect contacts between Hamdok and the army.

Hamdok told mediators that his position would be based on that of the FFC, which emerged from the uprising that toppled Bashir, the sources said. FFC representatives on Wednesday rejected negotiations with the military.

Earlier on Thursday Sudanese medic Mohamed Nagi Al-Assam, who rose to prominence in the uprising against Bashir and became a vocal critic of the coup, was arrested and taken to an unknown location, a doctors union said.

In a statement on Assam’s arrest, the union said resistance would continue “until the coup is brought down and its leaders are put on trial.”

The union has joined other labour organisations and the FFC in calling for Saturday’s mass rallies against the coup.

The civil disobedience movement has been hampered by a blackout of mobile internet access across Sudan since October 25.

A judge on Thursday issued a second instruction to telecoms firms Zain and MTN and local providers Sudatel and Canar to restore connections, pending the announcement of any damages to be paid to subscribers.

In a statement, Zain said the original order only applied to some accounts and that the company had reconnected them immediately. It said it was working on Thursday’s order to restore all lines. The other companies could not be reached or did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In addition to Burhan and Dagalo, three other military members of the previous ruling council were retained in the new council announced on Thursday, along with one civilian representative who had been jointly selected by the military and the FFC.

Four new members representing different regions of the country were also appointed, though the representative for eastern Sudan was still to be confirmed, state media reported.

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