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Sudan army chief frees 4 ministers

November 5, 2021

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said the army takeover was "not a coup" but just an adjustment to the democratic transition. The US and UN are calling for the return of the government.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan speaks at a press conference in Sudanese capital Khartoum
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has pledged the 'imminent' appointment of a governmentImage: /AP/dpa/picture alliance

Sudan's army chief on Thursday ordered the release of four civilian ministers after the US and UN mounted pressure on his military coup that derailed the eastern African country's democratic transition.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said a new government was "imminent" while keeping his cards close to his chest on what it would look like.

Who has been freed?

"We are considering all internal and external initiatives to serve the national interest," Burhan's media spokesman Taher Abouhaga said Thursday.

Sudan TV then announced that Hashem Hassalbalrasoul, telecommunications minister, Ali Geddo, who heads the trade ministry, Hamza Baloul, minister for information and Youssef Adam who has the portfolio of youth and sport, would all be freed.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Burhan to continue the democratic transition shortly before the decision to release the ministers. 

Burhan dissolved the civilian-military government on October 25 and declared a state of emergency. However, last Wednesday he told the African Union he would soon appoint a "government of technocrats."

How has the international community reacted?

Guterres urged Sudan's military to undertake "all efforts toward resolving the political crisis in Sudan and urgently restoring the constitutional order and Sudan's transitional process," a UN statement said. The African Union had suspended Sudan after the coup.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Burhan on the need to speed up the formation of the transitional government on Thursday.

"The two parties agreed on the need to maintain the path of the democratic transition, the need to complete the structures of the transitional government and to speed up the formation of the government," Blinken's office said. 

Burhan's office said that the general agreed to form a government as quickly as possible.

Sudanese anti-coup protesters attend a gathering in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurma
Protesters assembled in their thousands after the military putsch last weekImage: AFP/Getty Images

Blinken also urged the return of Prime Minister Hamdok to office and called for the release of all political figures detained since the coup. He asked that Burhan "restores civilian-led governance in Sudan."

Civilian groups call for general strikes on Sunday and Monday

The military coup followed tensions between Burhan and civilian Prime Minister Abdalia Hamdok, who is now under house arrest.

Protesters in Khartoum chanted "Down with military rule" during mass demonstrations after the coup. Neighborhood resistance committees have been leading the protests since the coup, calling for the military to exit politics altogether, with more taking place on Thursday in the capital. 

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the 2019 protests that brought down Omar al-Bashir, on Thursday called for two days of general strikes on Sunday and Monday in protest of military rule. 

jc/msh (AFP, Reuters)