(Reuters) – Sudanese senior general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led a military takeover in Khartoum, dissolving a ruling council in which the army and civilians shared power and plunging the country’s democratic transition into turmoil.
– He was little known in public life until he participated in the coup against veteran autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2019 after a popular uprising against his regime. At the time, he was the third general and inspector general of the armed forces of Sudan. A day after the coup, the defense minister resigned amid protests and appointed him to head a transitional military council.
– In August 2019, his role as de facto head of state was asserted when he became head of the Sovereign Council, a body made up of civilian and military leaders that was formed to oversee the transition to elections. Burhan announced on Monday the dissolution of the Sovereign Council.
– As the head of the Sudanese ground forces, he oversaw the Sudanese troops which were deployed in 2015 to fight as part of the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen. He has close ties to senior Gulf military officials as he was responsible for coordinating Sudan’s military engagement in the war.
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– After the overthrow of Bashir, an Islamist, Burhan developed good relations with states that worked against Islamists in the region, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Gulf States have provided Khartoum with significant assistance. In March, he received Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Khartoum.
– He was at the forefront of Sudan’s attempts to normalize its relations with Israel. In October 2020, 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 relationships.
Burhan met Netanyahu in Uganda in February 2020. Mike Pompeo, then US Secretary of State, thanked Burhan by phone “for his leadership in normalizing ties with Israel.”
– He was stationed in Darfur, in western Sudan, during the conflict in the 2000s. The transitional authorities led by Burhan had pledged to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued warrants arrest against Bashir for alleged atrocities in Darfur. But the pursuit of justice in Darfur was a point of tension between the military and civilians.
(Written by Tom Perry, edited by Angus MacSwan)
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