By AYA BATRAWY
NEW YORK (AP) — Sudan’s ruling military general, who staged a coup nearly a year ago, has said he will not run in future elections for a civilian-led government , but offered no timeline on when a vote might take place for him to relinquish Power.
General Abdel-Fattah Burhan spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly high-level leaders meeting. It marked nearly a year after the coup upended the Arabic-speaking African nation’s short-lived transition to democracy after three decades of repressive rule by strongman Omar al-Bashir.
When asked if he would consider running in the next election, Burhan replied, “I don’t think so.” Pressed further, he said, “I don’t feel like running (as a candidate) or continuing in this job.”
Last year’s coup was underpinned by tensions between supporters of military rule and those who support civilian rule, with both sides frustrated by the country’s deteriorating economic conditions.
Sudan has been embroiled in political turmoil for more than three years. Its economy has faltered and inflation is expected to reach 245% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Since last October’s coup, pro-democracy protesters have marched through the streets demanding that the generals hand over power to civilians. They denounced Burhan’s takeover, which occurred when the military dissolved Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional government as well as the Sovereign Council, a power-sharing body made up of military officers and civilians who ruled Sudan since the end of 2019.
Troops opened fire on protesters, killing some and arresting hundreds. Although no police or member of the security forces have been found guilty of the deaths, Burhan said around five or six people are being investigated.
“No one killed protesters in the manner described,” he said. “The protesters clashed with the police, and the police dealt with them according to the law to protect public property.”
Burhan said that once an elected government is in place, the armed forces will be another institution of that government rather than retaining a superior status.
During the interview, Burhan said he will not run in the next elections. But he refrained from giving a date for the election to be held, despite previously saying a vote could take place in July 2023. Instead, he said the impasse lay in the groups politicians who must agree on a date for the vote. He insisted that the army had no role in this discussion.
“We are talking about political participation and broadening that participation, whether it is Hamdok or someone else, that person will not succeed without a broad base to govern Sudan,” Burhan said. “The only authority to govern is through elections, with no one imposing their will on another.”
He also dismissed tensions within his own transitional government, denying any disagreement with the deputy head of Sudan’s ruling military council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known by his nickname Hamedti. Local media have reported arguments between the two generals in recent weeks. Dagalo also acknowledged the failure of the October military takeover.
Amid the political upheaval, millions of Sudanese are suffering from high prices and a currency whose value has fallen dramatically against the dollar. The ruling military chief accused countries and institutions, which he did not name, of being behind the deterioration of Sudan’s economic situation.
Sudan is in the midst of a worsening food crisis caused by “a cocktail of factors”, according to the country’s World Food Program representative, Eddie Rowe, who spoke at a press conference by the Sudan. Friday.
Sudan has suffered two years of poor harvests, a summer of devastating floods and is struggling to access vital grain imports from Eastern Europe following the war in Ukraine. In response to the October coup, many major UN donors withdrew their funding from the country.
To help ease the Sudanese crisis, Rowe called for lasting peace, a reliable government, and additional international aid and support.
Following the coup, the Biden administration suspended $700 million in financial aid intended to support Sudan’s transition to an all-civilian government. The State Department said the full aid package, which could include other aid beyond the $700 million, had been put on “pause” pending a review of developments in Khartoum.
There are those “who promised to provide assistance to Sudan, but they did not honor their promises”, Burhan said. “There was a lot of support from these external actors, but unfortunately that assistance stopped for political purposes.”
Dubai-based AP journalist Aya Batrawy is on assignment to cover the United Nations General Assembly. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ayaelb and for more AP coverage of the UN General Assembly, visit https://apnews.com/hub/united-nations-general-assembly