Sudan army chief Burhan markets junta at Riyadh Summit

Friday November 10 2023

Sudanese leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L) shakes hands with Djibouti President Ismail Oguelleh on the sidelines of the Saudi-Africa Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 10, 2023. Guelleh is also the current chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. PHOTO | IGAD


Sudanese junta leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was among heads who showed up at the meeting of African leaders with Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Thursday, sustaining his show for legitimacy to the world.

Lt-Gen al-Burhan arrived in Riyadh for the first time since the outbreak of the war in April between Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.

The Saudi African Summit on Friday gathered dozens of African leaders among them Kenya’s President William Ruto whom al-Burhan had accused of siding with RSF’s Mohamed Hamdani Daglo ‘Hemedti’ while the Kenyan leader also pushed for mediation by regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad). Eventually, that quartet by Igad that also included South Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt failed to make breakthrough in peace talks.

Read: Mediators target wider consensus in Sudan peace talks

But Igad is now part of the Jeddah talks, a peace process led by Saudi Arabia, the US and the African Union, incidentally in Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah.

This week, the representatives of RSF and Saf failed to agree on ceasefire but pledged to establish direct contacts.


Burhan’s trip, experts say, will help portray him as in charge in Sudan, in spite of the violence back home. 

Jihad Mashamoun, Dr Jihad Mashamoun, a Sudanese political analyst and honorary research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, says “going to Saudi Arabia will solidify his message that he is the legitimate head of Sudan to the international community”.

“It also gives him the opportunity to encourage Saudi Arabia to give him unequivocal support, and chance to get Ruto to support his legitimacy or at least drop his opposition to him as head of Sudan.”

The generals are bothered by any intervention force as it is impinging on their own responsibility and ability to protect Sudanese borders.

Read: Sudan rival factions blame each other of bombing embassy

According to statement issued by the Sudan Sovereign Council media department, al-Burhan was to also participate in the emergency summit called by the Council of the Arab League States tomorrow, Saturday, after the events in Gaza Strip in which the Israeli forces have bombarded the area targeting Hamas militants, but which has killed more than 11,000 civilians.

Yet sources said the visit is also an opportunity for the President of the Sovereign Council to meet with the leaders of the African continent and clarify the course of things that are happening in Sudan.

The summit comes in very complex circumstances in the region after the war of April 15 in Sudan and the recent events in Gaza Strip. But Saudis see it as an opportunity for influence in Africa.

The Kingdom announced on Thursday a funding portfolio of $533 million towards Africa.