Sudan needs a new date to hand over power to civilians

A civilian member of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council announced, on Friday, that the date for handing over the leadership of the council, the highest authority in the country, from the army to civilians is still unclear, and requires discussion and a new legal opinion.

A failed coup attempt on Tuesday exposed tension between the two sides, the 11-member Sovereignty Council that was formed following a power-sharing agreement in 2019, and publicly debated for the first time over when to replace the council’s current leader.

In an interview with state television, Muhammad al-Faki Suleiman, a member of the council and a former journalist, described the relationship between the civilian and military members of the council as not good, adding that joint meetings on several issues did not reach consensus in recent weeks.

He added that political discussions and a fatwa from the Ministry of Justice were needed to set a date for handing over power.

Head of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan (archived from AFP)

In a speech on Wednesday, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sovereignty Council, criticized Suleiman and other civilian leaders. Al-Burhan described the army as the guardian of the transition process, a description that Suleiman rejected.

Suleiman said that the aim of this is to produce a political situation controlled by the military component, considering that this is unacceptable. He added that the military members of the Sovereignty Council should accept discussion and criticism.

The constitutional declaration, signed in the wake of the 2018-2019 uprising that toppled President Omar al-Bashir, set a date for handing over the leadership of the Sovereignty Council in May 2021. However, a peace agreement signed in October modified the dates for handing over power without specifying a new date.

Suleiman stated that handing over power to civilians is not a secondary matter, adding that he would prefer a proposal to do so in November.

And the White House revealed that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a phone call with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok that any attempt by the military to undermine the handover of power to civilians “will have serious consequences for the bilateral relations between the United States and Sudan and for the planned aid.”

Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made clear that the United States could reimpose sanctions in the event of a coup. “The army should stay in its barracks,” he added on Twitter.

The Sudanese authorities assert that the coup attempt was carried out by members of the army loyal to the former regime.

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