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Sudan: US presses leaders to make 'swift progress' toward civilian rule

US envoy, following a visit Khartoum this week, stresses need for Sudanese politicians to reach a consensus on path to new government amid widespread protests
Sudanese protesters during a demonstration in front of the Legislative Council in support of a civilian-led transition to democracy on 30 September (AFP/File photo)

The United States recently warned Sudan that failure to make progress on a transition to civilian rule could put at risk political and economic support from Washington, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Saturday.

Jeffrey Feltman, US envoy for the Horn of Africa, met with Sudan's Sovereign Council head General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as well as civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, during a four-day visit to Sudan this week that began on Tuesday. 

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The trip came one week after an attempted coup raised tensions between the civilian and military groups that share power in the country. 

Sudanese authorities have said that the coup plotters loyal to ousted President Omar al-Bashir were trying to derail the revolution that removed Bashir from power in 2019 and ushered in a transition to democracy.

The thwarted coup, which the United States has condemned, points to the difficult path facing Sudan under a fragile power-sharing deal between the military and civilians since the overthrow of Bashir, who presided over Sudan for nearly three decades and was shunned by the West.

Sudan's current ruling body, known as the Sovereign Council, has won Western debt relief and taken steps to normalise ties with Israel, while battling a severe economic crisis. Elections are expected in 2024.

'Failure to meet key benchmarks will place at risk Sudan's bilateral relationship with the United States'

- Ned Price, US State Department spokesperson

But the 11-member Sovereign Council does not yet have a date for handing leadership of the body from the military to civilians.

During this week's trip, Feltman pressed Sudanese politicians to make "swift progress" toward civilian rule, including a "reaching consensus on the date" when a civilian would take charge of the Sovereign Council, according to Price.

"Deviation from this path and failure to meet key benchmarks will place at risk Sudan's bilateral relationship with the United States, including significant U.S. assistance," Price said.