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Sudan Civilians Reject al-Burhan Roadmap

FILE: Sudan's Sovereign Council Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan attends a news conference during a visit to Paris, France 5.17.2021

Sudan's main civilian bloc, the Forces for Freedom and Change, on Tuesday rejected a proposal by the country's coup leader to make way for civilian rule as a "transparent maneuver" and urged more protests.

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, whose power grab last October ousted the civilian Forces for Freedom and Change, had vowed in a surprise move Monday to "make room" for civilian groups to form a new transition government.

However, Burhan said the military would no longer participate in the talks facilitated by the United Nations, African Union and the regional IGAD bloc, wanting instead "to make room for political and revolutionary forces and other national factions" to form a civilian government.

But the FFC on Tuesday called for "continued public pressure" on the streets after days of protests and dismissed Burhan's move as a "tactical retreat and a transparent maneuver."

Kholood Khair, of the Khartoum think-tank Insight Strategy Partners, said she believed Burhan's announcement was made to put "the pressure on the civilians" but warned that it might change little on the ground.

"There's no talk of accountability," Khair said, noting that "core grievances remain."

Khair warned that protesters feared that, after Burhan had put Bashir-era "Islamists back in government", the coup leader was setting military and allied armed groups up to "retain economic privileges."

Burhan said Monday that "the formation of the executive government" will be followed by "the dissolution of the Sovereign Council" -- the ruling authority formed under a fragile power-sharing agreement between the army and civilians in 2019.

Also created would be a "Supreme Council of Armed Forces", to be in charge of defense and security.

It would combine the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, a much feared and powerful unit commanded by Burhan's deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

Hours after his surprise announcement, Burhan on Tuesday flew to Kenya for an IGAD emergency summit of East African leaders. There, he met Ethiopian leader Abiy Ahmed, afterward promising "dialogue" between the two differing nations.

Protester Oumeima Hussein, speaking Monday, said the army chief must be "judged for all those killed since the coup" and vowed to "topple him like we did to Bashir".