New Sudan sovereign council and prime minister sworn in

New Sudan sovereign council and prime minister sworn in
3 min read
21 August, 2019
Sudan’s 11-member joint civilian-military ruling council, headed by current military ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was sworn in on Wednesday.
General Abdul Fattah Burhan, shown with protest leader Ahmed Rabie, will lead the council [Getty]

Sudan took mfurther steps in its transition towards civilian rule on Wednesday with the swearing in of a new sovereign council and the appointment of a prime minister.

The body replaces the Transitional Military Council (TMC) that took charge after months of deadly street protests brought down longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.

The first steps of the transition after the mass celebrations that marked the 17 August adoption of a transitional constitution proved difficult however.

The names of the joint civilian-military sovereign council's 11 members were eventually announced late Tuesday after differences within the opposition camp held up the process for two days.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who already headed the TMC, was sworn in as the chairman of the new sovereign council shortly after 11am local time (9am GMT).

Wearing his usual green beret and camouflage uniform, Burhan took the oath Wednesday in a short ceremony, one hand on the Quran and the other holding a military baton under his arm.

He will be Sudan's head of state for the first 21 months of the 39-month transition period, until a civilian takes over for the remainder.

The council's 10 other members were sworn in later on Wednesday and Abdalla Hamdok, who was chosen by the opposition last week to be prime minister, is also due to take office.

The sovereign council includes two women, including a member of Sudan's Christian minority, and it will oversee the formation of a government and of a legislative body.

The establishment of the civilian-dominated ruling council was welcomed by Khartoum residents but some warned the people would keep their new rulers in check.

"If this council does not meet our aspirations and cannot serve our interests, we will never hesitate to have another revolution," said Ramzi al-Taqi, a fruit seller.

"We would topple the council just like we did the former regime," he said.

The transition's key documents were signed on Saturday at a ceremony attended by a host of foreign dignitaries, signalling that Sudan could soon be welcomed back to the international community.

Sudan's new rulers are expected to push for the lifting of the suspension from the African Union that followed a crackdown on a sit-in in June, which left over 100 protesters dead.

The ruling council will also seek to have the country removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Amidst the euphoria celebrating the promise of civilian rule, unease was palpable within the protest camp that brought about one of the most significant moments in Sudan's modern history.

One reason is the omnipresence in the transition of Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, commonly known as Hemedti, a member of the sovereign council and a paramilitary commander whose forces are blamed for the deadly repression of the protests.

His Rapid Support Forces sprang out of the Janjaweed militia notorious for alleged crimes in Darfur.

Restoring stability to a country still plagued by deadly unrest in the regions of Darfur, Kordofan and Blue Nile will be one of the most urgent tasks of Sudan's transitional institutions.

The other daunting challenge that awaits the fragile civilian-military alliance is the rescue of an economy that has all but collapsed in recent years.

It was the sudden tripling of bread prices in December 2018 that sparked the wave of protests fatal to Bashir's regime.