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AFP
August 22, 2019

Sudan swears in ruling council

World

AFP
August 22, 2019

Sudan took further steps in its transition towards civilian rule on Wednesday with the swearing in of a new sovereign council, to be followed by 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. As a result of Wednesday’s move, it was the first time that Sudan was not under full military rule since Bashir’s coup d’etat in 1989.

The first steps of the transition after the mass celebrations that marked the August 17 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 in the morning. Wearing his usual green beret and camouflage uniform, Burhan took the oath in a short ceremony, one hand on the Holy Qura'an 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 shortly afterwards and Abdalla Hamdok, who was chosen by the opposition last week to be prime minister, was due to be sworn in later on Wednesday.

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 inauguration of the civilian-dominated ruling council, which held its first meeting in the afternoon, was widely welcomed but some Khartoum residents warned they 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 pedlar. "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 be on its way to shedding its pariah status. Sudan’s new rulers are expected to push for the lifting of the suspension from the African Union that followed a deadly crackdown on a sit-in in June.

The ruling council will also seek to have the country removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for his role in massacres in the Darfur region, where a rebellion broke out in 2003.

He appeared in court on Monday -- but only on charges of corruption for the opening of a trial in which an investigator said the deposed leader admitted to receiving millions in cash from Saudi Arabia.

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