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Gen. Burhan steps up post-coup crackdown as he offers to reinstate Premier Hamdok

Security forces killed at least three and wounded 100 protestors at rally in Khartoum on 30 October

Confusion reigns at the heart of General Abdel Fattah al Burhan's junta a week after he seized power and ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and several civilian ministers (AC Vol 62 No 22, General Al Burhan's power grab). Two days after the coup, Burhan told a press conference that Hamdok was staying with him for his own protection. Then, he publicly offered Hamdok his job back.

Burhan's regional supporters, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, are keeping a low profile after Washington asked them to persuade the junta to restore the transitional government.

After the putsch, Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel, who heads Egypt's General Intelligence Directorate, or Mukhabarat, travelled to Khartoum to advise Burhan on the formation of a new government. But those discreet plans are foundering because no credible civilian figures are willing to join.

Volker Perthes, the UN's special envoy to Sudan, has been speaking to both the junta and Hamdok's team in an independent mediation effort and trying to damp down rising tensions.

Activists say Burhan is running out of options as economic and political pressures mount on the junta. They accuse him of trying to launder the coup by offering to reinstate Hamdok as premier. Hamdok remains under house-arrest in Khartoum.

'We told him [Hamdok] that we cleared the stage for you … he is free to form the government. We will not intervene in the government formation,' Burhan said in a speech broadcast by Al Jazeera on 28 October.

Insiders say Burhan favours the tactic of continuing the security crackdown in the hope the opposition's campaign will dissipate. For now, that looks improbable.

Mohamed Alsabat, a senior figure in the Sudanese Professionals' Association (SPA) which has been coordinating opposition to the junta, says its peaceful campaign of civil disobedience, boycotts and street protests will continue (AC Dispatches 25/10/21, The street confronts the army).

Pro-democracy protestors marched across Khartoum on 30 October in the biggest show of strength since the toppling of President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir in April 2019. The general strike is set to continue this week with another mass rally due in Khartoum on 6 November.

The Sudan Doctors' Committee reported that three protestors were shot dead in Omdurman when security forces fired live rounds into the crowd.

Making no concessions, the junta has continued to arrest activists and sacked the Chief Justice who was presiding over critical reforms to the judicial system. It has also released some key figures in and around Beshir's formerly ruling National Congress Party (NCP), which was proscribed after the 2019 revolution.

Those released included Ibrahim Ghandour, one of Beshir's closest aides, along with a clutch of officials and business-people who had been detained on charges of rights abuses and grand corruption. Former foreign minister Ghandour told the Middle East Eye online news service that he wanted '… the whole nation to start a process of national reconciliation.'

But early on 1 November, Reuters news agency reported that Ghandour had been rearrested, without any public statement. The indecision over Ghandour's release may reflect wider divisions within the junta and the security services as internal rivalries grow.

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