Military committed to civilian rule, Sudan’s top general says

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

In a video message released early on Friday to mark the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, army chief General 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.”

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.

People walk past closed shops in Khartoum, Sudan
People walk past closed shops in Khartoum, Sudan (Marwan Ali/AP)

There was no immediate response from Mr Burhan to the ceasefire announcement.

Since he took control of the country in an October 2021 coup, Mr Burhan and his rival, commander of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) General 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 is the first time Mr Burhan has been seen since fighting engulfed the capital and other areas of the country.

It is not known when or where the video was made.

General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, commander of the Sudanese armed forces, speaks at an undisclosed location
General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, commander of the Sudanese armed forces, speaks at an undisclosed location (Sudan armed forces/AP

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 ceasefire.

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.

Fears are growing that the country’s medical system is on the verge of collapse, with many hospitals forced to shut 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,” Mr 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 neighbours.

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