Sudanese President General AbdelFattah al-Burhan, the rise from zero to hero, to zero.

Ahmed Yasir Mustafa

Ahmed Yasir Mustafa is a 17-year-old who is passionate about Sudanese politics and has written several profiles focusing on Sudanese political leaders. In this opinion piece, he intends to educate his community and the global public on Sudanese President General AbdelFattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan.

In this profile piece, the concentration is on Sudan’s President, General AbdelFattah al-Burhan, an appointed leader of Sudan’s transitional government. Ahmed Mustafa dissects the background of Sudan’s President and provides his opinion on how the iconic figure went from being zero to a hero back to zero.

The beginning

AbdelFattah Abdelrahman Al-Burhan was born in 1960 in the village of Kundato in northern Sudan , to a simple and conservative family. Al-Burhan studied until middle school, and later moved to the city of Shandi to complete his education before joining the Sudanese Military College in Karari Omdurman among the 31st batch.

After completing military college, Al Burhan worked in the military HQ as a junior and was receiving practice until he was recruited by the sudanese armed forces to the war that was then active in the Darfur region against government rebel forces (ie.SLM Sudan liberation movement led by Abdul wahid al-nur) who were fighting the government due to their belief that the states of the Darfur region were treated unfairly and lacked basic necessities that were available in the rest of the country. Eventually Al Burhan was then transferred to South Sudan in the country’s second civil war. The south sudanese public had created militias to attempt to fight and gain independence from the north. Al Burhan then took some time off to travel to Egypt and Jordan to take on military training courses to improve his military experience and ultimately improve his military status.

Abdul Wahid Al-Nur, Founder of the sudanese liberation movement

The sudden rise

2018 was a pivotal point for Al Burhan, having recently come back from his courses in the middle east, He was appointed as general commander of The ground forces in the Sudanese army lead by former president and leader of the sudanese armed forces, Omar Al- Bashir. His Role in this position didn’t last though, and Al Burhan was demoted to one of the deputy heads of the ground forces. It is unknown whether Al Burhan was the one who stepped down from his position , or if he was forcibly released.

He maintained the position until early 2019, When anti-government protests shook the country, calling on president Omar al bashir to step down alongside his regime and political party (the national congress party). Despite brutal acts of killing and torture by police and national intelligence security services (NISS) , The sudanese people were persistent in making their voice heard, and by April 7th, the sudanese armed forces commanded Al-Burhan to head to the republican palace and inform Al Bashir of his removal from presidency. Later that day, al Bashir and his main regime were put under house arrest.

6 hours later, the Sudanese armed forces held a press conference on national television, explaining their plan of a two year military led transitional government guided and led by General Awad ibn ouf, democratic elections would then take place after the two year period and an elected civilian government would lead the country onwards.

To the dismay of the sudanese military, the general public completely refused this idea and instead opted for a civilian transitional government led by a FOFAC (forces of freedom and change) appointee. Nevertheless, protests by the military headquarters in Khartoum continued.

A Train from the city of Atbara with protestors bound for Khartoum

In Al-Burhan we trust

Now I know what you’re thinking right now…”in Al-Burhan we trust, this kid is out of his mind ” Just read and let me explain things to you. Two days after the announcement of a military led transitional council, protests were erupting the capital , and it soon became known that a military council led by Lieutenant General Awad ibn ouf— whom had tight relations with Al-Bashir during his military career— was not going to work nor was it going to be accepted. Later that day, Ibn Ouf went on a national press conference where he announced his resignation from the position of the military led transitional council in response to the public’s call , he also announced his replacement in the form of current president Abdelfatah Al-Burhan. Due to the fact that Al-Burhan led the group that had begun the procedure to remove Al-Bashir from office, and him not having any known ties with members of the national congress party/previous regime, he was widely accepted by the sudanese public when appointed.

Before Ibn-ouf would appoint him as his successor, Al burhan would sit with protesters in the military HQ sit-in and listen to their goals and dreams and the hardships they encounter in their everyday lives, something that wasn’t common from any high rank general under any circumstances with any other high rank military general in Sudan. This gave the public a sense of trust towards Al-Burhan. I should also bring to your attention that the sudanese public were still persistent in the country’s need for a civilian government.

Protests went on and people felt safe, the military were protecting them and media outlets were starting to send their journalists to the Khartoum military sit-in, based at the sudanese military headquarters. For the first time in a long time, things were actually looking good.

The darkest of days

Everything seemed to go well , Al-Burhan and his council were in talks with the FOFAC (forces of freedom and change) to create a co-joint military/civilian government, the first of its kind across the Arab world and the African continent. Protests were still going on and the spirits of the Sudanese people have never been higher.

Then came a day, which shook Sudan and turned out to be one of the country’s darkest days in its modern history.

June 3rd, 5:23 am.

Military vehicles predominantly owned by the RSF—rapid support forces, led by deputy general Lieutenant Mohammed Hamdan dagalo— started entering and surrounding the military HQ sit-in. At first, protestors weren’t worried , as they had been protected by the army during the last couple of weeks and assumed RSF vehicles were arriving to protect the recently increased number of protestors from previous regime undercover forces that had recently tried attacking protestors. Little did they know these forces arrived in order to violently disperse their sit-in. By 6:47 am, senior generals ordered to start the dispersal, shots were fired immediately and protestors were starting to run away from the sit-in, but everywhere they ran, they found themselves in front of RSF personnel.

Over a hundred people died and hundreds were injured, in one of the worst massacres in sudanese history.

In no one we trust.

During the next days, RSF militias were still roaming around the capital and stopping anyone from trying to protest , even innocent people were unjustly being arrested and tortured as well as killed and injured

. Al Burhan and the transitional council spokesmen General Shams-aldeen Kabashi went on a national press conference to speak about the situation and went on to say this:

“On the day before the action (massacre) we called for a extensive meeting , in which all high ranked military officials and politicians, all members of the military transitional council, Head and deputy of the National intelligence security services (NISS), Head and deputy of the Sudanese police forces, Head of the rapid support forces. We had also requested that the chief justice and public prosecutor attend this meeting to provide the necessary legal advice. All of whom I’ve mentioned had attended this Meeting. We took legal advice on how to deal with this situation in such a delicate location. And we are grateful towards the chief of justice and public prosecutor, as they provided us with the necessary legal advice, and departed the meeting. And based on that, we directed military forces towards the plan of dispersing the sit-in ,according to the known security and military procedures. Military and security forces went on and ”.وحدث ما حدث ,assembled their plan and enforced it


.and what had happened, happened :وحدث ما حدث

Mixed opinions

After a month without any progress with the FOFAC (forces of freedom and change) in creating a co-joint government, negotiations had resumed by a neutral corner in the form of prime minister of Ethiopia Abi Ahmed. This helped bring the two sides closer together, and the situation was starting to look somewhat promising again.

To many though, this wasn’t over, they had just seen one of the worst massacres in sudanese history and now the people who ordered this massacre are going to share a seat within the government? It seemed unfair and rightly so, but it was the only way out from a political standpoint, this was the only way Sudan could achieve a civilian government.

By August 17th, 2019, the civilian wing and military side had signed an agreement for a 3 year transitional period. the ministry cabinet would almost all consist of civilian ministers excluding the ministry of interior (seat held by the police force).

On the other hand, Abdalla Hamdok had been appointed prime minister. Hamdok became the highest positioned civilian within the government.

Al-Burhan on the other side, had become the highest ranked personnel within the government , essentially playing the role as president of Sudan. The sudanese public had lost a lot of recently gained respect for Al-Burhan and he is now widely disliked by the sudanese public. This is how Lieutenant General Abdelfattah al-Burhan went from zero to hero, to zero.

You can find Ahmed on Instagram and Twitter.

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