Sudan’s military junta has promised to continue with the much-needed transition to civilian rule “once the crisis is over” in what could be seen as the initial signal for rapprochement to the international community.
Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan told journalists on Tuesday that there would be a new government of experts and technocrats as soon as possible, a day after he controversially dissolved the transitional government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
“We intend to safeguard all the gains, including the peace agreements and the freedoms of the people,” al-Burhan told the media in the capital Khartoum, where protests have raged since Monday when the military forcibly took power in a coup.
Al-Burhan, who also imposed a state of emergency and cut internet and telecom services, said online platforms were being “abused by people who wanted to cause trouble” and argued they would be returned as soon as the protests ended.
“The state of emergency will be lifted once we establish a government of experts and technocrats. We will make reforms and protect those reforms without any conditions. This is not a coup; we acted to protect the transition.”
However, the international community, which sees the military’s actions as a coup, demanded a resumption of the transitional government.
They included the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which Sudan is the current chair; the African Union; the United Nations; and Western allies like the US. Washington even suspended aid worth $700 million until order resumes.
Al-Burhan’s soldiers conducted a morning raid on Monday, arresting several cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister himself and his wife.
The four Cabinet Ministers in charge of Industry (Ibrahim al-Sheikh), information (Hamza Baloul), cabinet affairs and communications (Faisal Mohammed Saleh) as well as the spokesman for the transitional sovereign council (Mohammed Suliman) were picked up alongside Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his wife, and shipped to an unknown location in the capital Khartoum.
However, on Tuesday, al-Burhan suggested the PM and his wife had been isolated from the group, saying, “the Prime Minister is my guest and will be allowed to leave once the crisis is over. He is in good health.”
There were no guarantees on when the new government would be formed or who would comprise it.
Already, civilian groups who supported Hamdok have rejected the coup. And armed groups who had been negotiating for a peace deal also dismissed it.
Abdul Wahid Mohammed Ahmed al-Nour, leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement and one of the groups who had yet to join the government, said Sudanese must reject the coup and refuse a “blood partnership” with the military.
Al-Burhan did say the new transitional government will have no politics, saying selfish individuals had stalled the progress.
However, the junta suspended flights into and out of the country as protesters continued to demand the officials’ release and that the transitional government resumes office.
The coup came just a month after al-Burhan claimed forces loyal to ousted leader Omar al-Bashir had attempted to topple the government. With both al-Bashir and the military’s supporters keen to keep power, some analysts argue they now have a common agenda of staying influential. And it could benefit Bashir, currently in jail for corruption.