Burhan veteran soldier becomes Sudan’s new ruler

A grab from a broadcast on Sudan TV shows Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdulrahman taking oath on April 12, 2019 as chief of the new military council, in the capital Khartoum.

– Sudan’s military council chief General Awad Ibn Ouf announced on April 12 he was stepping down in favour of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdulrahman to succeed him, just a day after he was sworn in following the ouster of veteran president Omar al-Bashir.

Ibn Ouf also said that before stepping down he had fired his deputy in the council Lieutenant General Kamal Abdelmarouf.

General Abdel Fattah al -Burhan , the second officer to be sworn in as Sudan ’ s new military ruler in consecutive days , is a “ veteran soldier ” largely unknown outside the army.

On Friday, Burhan became chief of a military council that deposed Omar al- Bashir , after the president ’ s immediate successor General Awad Ibn Ouf stepped down following little more than 24 hours in power.

Protesters , determined to see a civilian government after the end of Bashir ’ s iron- fisted three decades in power, saw Ibn Ouf as a regime insider and a close aide of the toppled leader.

Ibn Ouf’ s exit has catapulted Burhan from the shadows to the de facto head of the country.

“Burhan is a high ranking officer within the armed forces , but basically he ’ s a veteran soldier , ” said an army officer , who did not want to be named .

“ He’ s never been in the limelight like Ibn Ouf or General Kamal Abdelmarouf , ” the officer said , referring to the army’ s former chief of staff .

Burhan had a stint as Sudan ’ s defence attache to Beijing .

On Friday, hours before he was named as Sudan ’ s new military ruler, he was seen talking to protesters who have camped outside the army headquarters since April 6 .

– ‘No political leanings ’ –
Born in 1960 in the village of Gandatu , north of Khartoum , Burhan studied in a Sudanese army college and later in Egypt and Jordan.
He is married and has three children .

He was commander of ground forces before Bashir made him inspector general of the army in February .

Sudanese media and analysts say Burhan coordinated sending Sudanese troops to Yemen as part of a Saudi – led coalition against the Iran backed Huthi rebels .

Willow Berridge , author of Civil Uprisings in Modern Sudan and lecturer in history at Newcastle University says the Yemen portfolio saw Burhan work closely with Sudan ’ s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF ).

It is with the support of this group that “he now appears to have come to power, ” said Berridge .

“ The role in this latest move of the Rapid Support Forces — branded by many as a revamped version of the Janjaweed militias who committed mass atrocities in Darfur — will make many cautious , ” Berridge added .

She noted that the various Darfur based rebel groups , which feed into opposition coalitions , would be especially wary .

The conflict in Darfur erupted in 2003 when ethnic black rebels took up arms against Khartoum ’ s Arab dominated government , accusing it of neglecting the region economically and politically.

The United Nations says about 300 , 000 people have been killed in the conflict , while millions have been displaced.

Bashir deployed Sudanese troops to Yemen in 2015 as part of a major foreign policy shift that saw Khartoum break its decades- old ties with Shiite Iran and join the Saudi – led coalition.

Sudanese soldiers and officers are fighting in Yemen , and have suffered significant casualties .

While it is unclear how many Sudanese troops have been deployed in Yemen , photographs of killed or wounded soldiers on social media have regularly sparked calls for withdrawal .

“ Burhan doesn ’ t have any political leanings , he is a professional soldier , ” the anonymous officer said .

But as de facto head of the country, he will not be able to escape making difficult political decisions.

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