Sudan’s top military commander appeared to tighten his grip on power Thursday, as he appointed a new governing council that he will lead, two weeks after the military overthrew the civilian-led government.
The move by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan contradicts repeated promises from the military that they will hand over power to civilian authorities after seizing it in an October 25 coup.
The United Nations said the development is “very concerning.”
“We want to see a return to the transition as quickly as possible,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “We want to see the release from house arrest of Prime Minister (Abdalla) Hamdok, as well as all other politicians and leaders that have been detained.”
Since the coup, Hamdok and more than 100 government officials and political leaders have been detained, along with a large number of protesters and activists.
The internet also remains cut, despite a court order on Tuesday to restore it.
The newly appointed sovereign council includes paramilitary leader Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo as Burhan’s deputy, and three generals from the previous council. Eight civilians were also appointed.
UN Security Council convenes
The U.N. Security Council met behind closed doors Thursday to discuss the developments. Volker Perthes, head of the U.N. mission in Sudan, briefed them from Khartoum.
British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said Perthes was “very frank in his assessment that the window now is closing for dialogue and for peaceful resolution.”
She said the military cannot ignore the will of the Sudanese people, who have been protesting across the country.
“We repeat our call for the military to engage in good faith to deliver a settlement that is based on the principle of genuine military-civilian partnership, which is, of course, the agreement that we all applauded in 2019 and that the people demanded — and that the people have been so clear in the last two weeks in their commitment to,” Woodward said of her government’s position.
The 11-member Sovereign Council was formed in the summer of 2019, after the military signed a power-sharing deal with pro-democracy forces, following the ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir. The power-sharing government was supposed to lead to elections in late 2023.
The African Union, the United Nations, and many governments have condemned the coup. The Arab League has called on the parties to abide by the 2019 constitutional document which lays out the transition.
Some information in this report is from The Associated Press.