Sudan military council chief visits Egypt

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan
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The head of Sudan’s ruling military council arrived on Saturday in Cairo, where he is to meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian presidency said. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan is on his first trip since taking power following the April ouster of president Omar al-Bashir after months of protests. His visit comes after Sudanese protest leaders announced a two-day strike from Tuesday, as talks with the military over installing civilian rule remain suspended.

The Alliance for Freedom and Change umbrella movement is at odds with the generals over whether the transitional body to rule Sudan should be headed by a military or civilian figure. Their negotiations have been on hold since Monday.

Egypt, whose President Fattah al-Sisi currently chairs the African Union, has voiced backing for Sudan’s military council. Egyptian presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi said Sisi had received Burhan at the capital’s Ittihadia Palace. In April, he hosted a summit where African nations urged the regional bloc to allow Khartoum “more time” for a handover to civilian rule.

Protest leaders were set to hold meetings with demonstrators at a sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum on Saturday to discuss how to resolve the deadlock. On Friday they said their strike at “public and private institutions and companies,” accompanied by civil disobedience, was “an act of peaceful resistance with which we have been forced to proceed.”

Thousands of protesters remain at the sit-in to demand the departure of the generals who seized power after ousting al-Bashir. Protest leaders have also called for people to march Sunday from residential areas of Khartoum towards the sit-in.

Several rounds of talks have so far failed to finalise the makeup of the new ruling body, although the two sides have agreed it will hold power for a transitional period of three years.

Western nations have called on the generals to hand power to a civilian administration, while the ruling army council has received support from regional powers including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; both close allies of Egypt.