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The General Who Led Sudan’s Coup

The General Who Led Sudan’s Coup

Tuesday, 26 October, 2021 - 18:00
Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. (AFP)

Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has led a military takeover in Khartoum, dissolving a ruling council in which the army and civilians had shared power and throwing the country’s democratic transition into turmoil.

Who is Burhan?

- He was little known in public life until taking part in the coup against veteran autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2019 after a popular uprising against his rule. At the time, he was Sudan’s third most senior general and inspector general of the armed forces. A day after the coup, the defense minister stepped down amid protests and named him head of a transitional military council.

- In August, 2019, his role as de facto head of state was affirmed when he became head of the Sovereign Council, a body comprising civilian and military leaders that was formed to oversee the transition towards elections. Burhan announced the dissolution of the Sovereign Council on Monday.

- As head of Sudan’s ground forces, he oversaw Sudanese troops who were deployed in 2015 to fight as part of the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen war.

- He has been at the forefront of Sudan’s tentative moves towards normalizing ties with Israel. In October 2020, along with Abdalla Hamdok - the prime minister ousted on Monday - Burhan took part in a phone call with then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former US President Donald Trump in which they agreed to take steps to normalize ties.

Burhan met Netanyahu in Uganda in February, 2020. Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State at the time, thanked Burhan by phone “for his leadership in normalizing ties with Israel”.

- He was posted in Darfur in western Sudan during the conflict there in the 2000s. The transitional authorities Burhan led had pledged to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has issued arrest warrants for Bashir for alleged atrocities in Darfur. But the pursuit of justice over Darfur was a point of tension between the army and civilians.

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