Sudan general promises free elections as protest death toll rises
Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, promised to hold elections in a speech on Friday following nationwide protests against military rule which saw at least five people killed and hundreds injured earlier this week.
Burhan, who led Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council beginning in 2019, deposed the country’s civilian prime minister, Abdulla Hamdok, in a coup last October.
Hamdok was later reinstated following widespread anti-coup demonstrations and international pressure but protests have continued, demanding an end to military rule in Sudan.
Burhan said in his speech that he was committed to “building all the institutions of transitional government and holding free, fair, and transparent elections at their scheduled time,” which is July 2023.
He called on the Sudanese people to “let the voice of reason prevail,” denouncing “the fight for power and the resulting loss of life and destruction of property”.
“Achieving harmony takes place through the acceptance of serious dialogue, open to all… the only way to power is a popular mandate given through elections,” the general said.
While Hamdok is now back in his position as prime minister, civilian activists have refused to recognise the agreement he signed with the military and vowed to continue protests.
The Sudanese Doctors’ Committee, which is affiliated with the protest movement, said that a protester died of his wounds on Friday after being hit by a tear gas canister fired by security forces the previous day.
This brings the total number of people killed since the October coup to 53.
On Saturday, Volker Perthes, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Sudan, issued a statement to coincide with the 66th anniversary of Sudan’s independence saying that “the lack of trust between all parties must be urgently addressed to find common ground for a mutually agreed path out of the current crisis”.
The statement condemned “the use of violence against peaceful protestors, attacks on journalists and violations of press freedom”.