Western powers denounce Sudan naming of new ruling council

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Sudan's top army general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, seen addressing reporters on October 26, 2021, has appointed a new governing council after ousting the civilian leadership (AFP/ASHRAF SHAZLY)

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."

They also urged security forces "to respect the rights of Sudanese citizens to freely express their views" ahead of another round of demonstrations planned for Saturday.

Sudan has been pursuing a fragile transition since 2019 when mass protests brought the ouster of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir, with a hybrid military-civilian arrangement in place ahead of elections set for 2024.

The United States has quickly stepped up pressure, suspending a $700 million package of economic support meant to assist the democratic transition.

US officials had praised the military for showing relative restraint during previous protests but had also been worried that Burhan would try to make his own appointments rather than reinstalling Hamdok.

sct/caw

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