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Sudan military council chief visits Egypt in first trip since Bashir's overthrow

Egypt, which currently chairs African Union, has voiced backing for Sudan's military council; Sisi has said he will help support stability in Sudan
Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan speaks with demonstrators outside army headquarters in Khartoum last month (AFP)

The head of Sudan's ruling military council visited neighbouring Egypt on Saturday - his first trip abroad since the army overthrew former president Omar al-Bashir last month following mass protests against his rule.

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan met Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is himself a former military chief who got the top job after leading the removal of his country's previous elected leader, Mohamed Morsi.

Burhan’s visit comes after Sudanese protest leaders announced a planned two-day strike and as talks with the military over installing civilian rule have been suspended since Tuesday, AFP said.

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.

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.

Egypt, whose president currently chairs the African Union, has voiced backing for Sudan's military council. Sisi has said he will help support stability in Sudan, which shares many of Egypt's security concerns.

Last month Sisi hosted a summit where African nations urged the regional bloc to allow Khartoum "more time" for a handover to civilian rule.

Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said Sisi had received Burhan at the capital Cairo’s Ittihadia Palace.

After sunset, Sudan's protesters take to the streets
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There were no immediate details on what they would discuss - but the meeting will be closely watched by Sudan's opposition and protest groups who have warned Egypt not to interfere in their politics, Reuters said.

Sudan's army set up a military council to rule the country after Bashir was overthrown, and promised to hand over power after elections.

But Sudan's protests groups, wary of what happened in Egypt, have sought guarantees that civilians will lead the transition process.

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 forthcoming 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".

Protest leaders have also called for people to march on Sunday from residential areas of Khartoum towards the sit-in.

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