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US, European powers denounce Sudan military leader’s naming of ruling council

Countries ‘gravely concerned’ after al-Burhan appoints transitional council that excludes bloc demanding transfer to civilian rule; 5 killed in protests

People protest in Khartoum, Sudan, Nov. 13, 2021 (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)
People protest in Khartoum, Sudan, Nov. 13, 2021 (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

The United States and European powers on Friday denounced the naming of a new ruling council by Sudan’s military leader and urged the reinstatement of the ousted civilian prime minister.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who on October 25 dissolved the government led by Abdalla Hamdok, on Thursday named a new transitional council that excludes the main bloc demanding a transfer to civilian rule.

In a joint statement, the United States, European Union, Britain, Norway and Switzerland said they were “gravely concerned” by the move.

“It runs contrary to the aspirations of the Sudanese people and the political and economic stability of the country,” it said.

“We strongly urge against further escalatory steps and again call for the immediate restoration of Prime Minister Hamdok and the civilian-led transitional government.”

The US Embassy in Khartoum also condemned “the excessive use of force” against protesters who took to the streets “for freedom and and democracy” after Sudanese security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas on Saturday to disperse protesters denouncing the military’s tightening grip on the country.

Sudan’s top army general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan holds a press conference at the General Command of the Armed Forces in Khartoum on October 26, 2021. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)

Activists said at least five were killed and several more were wounded.

Sudanese police, however, denied using live ammunition against the protesters and said that the demonstrators attacked several police stations and vehicles in Khartoum, leaving some 39 policemen with serious injuries.

Saturday’s deaths have brought the tally to at least 19 protesters killed due to excessive force used by the country’s security forces since the October 25 coup, according to Sudanese doctors and the United Nations.

Earlier Saturday, protesters gathered in Khartoum neighborhoods waved Sudanese flags and posters of  Hamdok, who has been under house arrest since the coup. They also chanted “civilian, civilian,” a reference to their main demand that the generals hand over power to civilians.

People protest in Khartoum, Sudan, Nov. 13, 2021 (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

Later in the day, security forces stormed the Arbaeen Hospital in Omdurman, pushing and beating up doctors, as well as injured protesters who were there for medical help and their families, the Sudan Doctors Committee said.

The Sudanese military seized power Oct. 25, dissolving the transitional government and arresting dozens of officials and politicians. The takeover upended a fragile planned transition to democratic rule, more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government.

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