Hundreds rally in Sudan to support military-backed initiative

The army says it supports ‘The Call of Sudan’s People’, a political initiative to pave the way for democratic elections.

Hundreds of Sudanese rallied outside a Khartoum conference hall in a show of support for a political initiative backed by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who last year led a military coup.

The initiative, known as “The Call of Sudan’s People”, was launched last month by renowned Sufi religious leader Al-Tayeb Al-Jed with the declared aim of ending Sudan’s political crisis.

In a televised speech on Sunday, al-Burhan urged all factions to join efforts seeking to bring Sudanese people together to “continue the transition and pave the way for elections”.

The military chief, who led the October coup that derailed Sudan’s transition to civilian rule, said the army was siding with the people’s aspirations for “democratic rule under an elected civilian government”.

Demonstrator Hozaifa Mohamed said he “supports the initiative”, which “calls for national consensus and which we hope will bring an end to the crises in Sudan”.

Another demonstrator, Othman Abdelrahman, said it brought together “multiple factions from across Sudan, including Sufis, armed groups and others”.

The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), Sudan’s main civilian bloc ousted from power in the coup, did not join the initiative.

Also absent were members from the resistance committees, informal groups that emerged during the 2019 protests against the decades-long rule of Omar al-Bashir, and that have led the calls for recent anti-coup rallies.

The initiative, however, has gained the support of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the African Union, whose diplomats attended a conference on Saturday.

In a speech then, Al-Jed said the initiative brought together some 120 political parties and multiple factions, including Sufi orders and tribal leaders.

He also said it aims to address “the economic deterioration” in the country, “achieve peace and security”, and ensure elections scheduled for next year are held “with integrity”.

The Sufi figure further called on people to “rally in support of” the army and other security forces to ensure unity. He urged factions that did not attend the meeting to join the initiative – even if they are “opposed” to it or have “reservations”.

Last month, al-Burhan pledged in a televised address to step aside and make way for Sudanese factions to agree on a civilian government.

Civilian leaders who were ousted in last year’s coup dismissed his move as a “ruse“, and pro-democracy protesters have held fast to their rallying cry of “no negotiation, no partnership” with the military.

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