Sudan’s top general Burhan says military committed to civilian rule

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Sudan’s top general said Friday the military is committed to a transition to civilian rule, in his first speech since brutal fighting between his forces and the country’s powerful paramilitary began nearly a week ago.

In a video message released early Friday to mark the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday, army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan said: “We are confident that we will overcome this ordeal with our training, wisdom and strength, preserving the security and unity of the state, allowing us to be entrusted with the safe transition to civilian rule.”

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The sounds of heavy fighting could be heard amid the call to prayer in the Sudanese capital, where mosques are expected to hold the morning services inside to protect worshippers.

The army chief’s statements came as his rivals claimed they would implement a three-day cease-fire for the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, based on “international and regional understandings.” There was no immediate response from Burhan to the cease-fire announcement.

Since he took control of the country in an October 2021 coup, Burhan and his rival, commander of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, have repeatedly promised to shepherd the country toward civilian rule. However, both have failed to sign political agreements that would see their institutions lose power and open the way for democratic elections.

The video message was the first time Burhan has been seen since fighting engulfed the capital and other areas of the country. It wasn’t known when or where the video was made.

On Thursday, Sudan’s military ruled out negotiations with the rival Rapid Support Forces, saying it would only accept its surrender. The two sides continued to battle in central Khartoum, the capital, and other parts of the country, threatening to wreck international attempts to broker a longer cease-fire.

The military’s statement raised the likelihood of a renewed surge in the nearly weeklong violence that has killed hundreds and pushed Sudan’s population to the breaking point. Alarm has grown that the country’s medical system was on the verge of collapse, with many hospitals forced to shut down and others running out of supplies

“Ruin and destruction and the sound of bullets have left no place for the happiness everyone in our beloved country deserves,” Burhan said in the speech.

Both sides have a long history of human rights abuses. The RSF was born out of the Janjaweed militias, which were accused of widespread atrocities when the government deployed them to put down a rebellion in Sudan’s western Darfur region in the early 2000s.

The conflict has raised fears of a spillover from the strategically located nation to its African neighbors.

Read more:

Sudan RSF fighters agree to 72-hour ceasefire for Eid holiday

US State Department urges parties in Sudan to extend ceasefire through end of Eid

Sudan’s growing conflict sparks race to evacuate foreigners

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