Khartoum, Sudan (AFP):
Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has called on troops to “end” support for authoritarian leaders as talks begin on military reforms, part of a prolonged transition to civilian rule.
Burhan had seized power in a 2021 coup that derailed a short-lived democratic transition following the 2019 ouster of conservative general Omar al-Bashir.
“During our history, the armed forces have supported dictatorial governments, and we want to put an end to that,” Burhan, a career soldier during Bashir’s three-decade rule, said in a speech to soldiers.
Reform of the security forces is a key point of contention in political discussions in the country. These discussions aim to complete a two-phase political process launched in December, to ensure the armed forces’ exit from politics once a civilian government is installed.
The proposed reforms include the integration of the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) under Mohamed Hamdan Daglo into the regular army.
Created in 2013, RSF emerged from the Janjaweed militia that Bashir had unleashed a decade earlier in the western region of Darfur against rebels.
Both Burhan and Daglo have pleaded for a successful integration.
Daglo said he wanted “a unified army”, while Burhan called for “a professional army that stays away from politics”.
The December deal had come after protests since Burhan’s October 2021 takeover, which had also triggered international aid cuts. The dwindling of international aid has added to the deepening political and economic troubles in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Daglo said earlier this month he was against “anyone who wants to become a dictator”, and that he opposed those “clinging on to power”.
He said the latest coup had “failed” because it had not brought change but rather the return of the “old regime” of Bashir loyalists.