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US foreign policy

Sudan’s Burhan ‘hijacked and betrayed’ aspirations of Sudanese people: Feltman

“We urge the military to release all civilians detained in connection with the unacceptable events on October 25,” the US official said.

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Sudan’s top military general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has “hijacked and betrayed the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a peaceful, democratic country,” the US special envoy responsible for Washington’s policy on Sudan said Tuesday.

Jeffrey Feltman, the special envoy for the Horn of Africa, told reporters in a phone call that the “immediate restoration of democratic governance in Sudan” was a must.

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Feltman was in Khartoum last, hours before Sudan’s top military general seized power and ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other government officials.

Burhan claimed he was protecting Hamdok, who is still under house arrest, and the country from a civil war.

Feltman said that the military and the civilians had “important roles” to play in the transition. “We urge the military to release all civilians detained in connection with the unacceptable events on October 25,” the US official said.

US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman meets with Sudanese Foreign Minister Maryam al-Sadeq al-Mahdi in Khartoum on May 7, 2021. (AFP)
US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman meets with Sudanese Foreign Minister Maryam al-Sadeq al-Mahdi in Khartoum on May 7, 2021. (AFP)

Feltman also said that the international support, especially from the US, was based on the transition moving forward.

“I think that the [Sudanese military] generals will realize that they need the support of the international community when it comes to issues such as economic development debt relief, access to financing via the World Bank and the IMF,” he added.

The US and Europe have repeatedly called for Hamdok’s government to be restored. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US suspended economic aid and assistance after the military coup.

Asked by Al Arabiya English about concerns over Russia’s support for the military takeover, Feltman said: “We were concerned by the initial Russian statements after the takeover; they seemed to almost bless the takeover.”

But he went on to note the UN Security Council statement, which Russia signed on to. “[That] was much more in line with the international consensus,” Feltman said, adding that Washington was in touch with Moscow over the Sudan file.

“I can’t say our positions overlap entirely, but there is some similarity in that we [both] want to see Sudan be stable, and we want to make sure that the situation remains non-violent,” he said.

Sudan's head of the military, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, speaks during a press conference in Khartoum, Oct. 26, 2021. (AP)
Sudan's head of the military, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, speaks during a press conference in Khartoum, Oct. 26, 2021. (AP)

Burhan and the military were supposed to hand over power in the coming weeks to the civilian-led government as part of the post-authoritarian period under Omar al-Bashir.

Civilians are still protesting in Sudan, calling for the civilian-led government to be restored.

Despite media reports suggesting he was in Khartoum, Feltman said he was in DC and was looking at travel plans to the region.

Read more: UN representative to Sudan discusses options for mediation with ousted PM Hamdok