Mohamed al-Faki Suleiman, former member of the previous government and member of the Unionist Alliance party, was arrested again in Sudan on February 13. Al-Faki had been placed under house arrest for the first time last October 25, after the coup d’état that had removed the government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, but was then released again shortly afterwards, resuming his political activity within the opposition forces.
His arrest follows those of the previous week that brought to prison some important members of the opposition forces, and among them the former minister Khaled Omar Youssef and the spokesman of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) movement, Wagdi Saleh, in an attempt by the government to silence the most important voices of the opposition movement to the military regime.
On the same day, a group of Sudanese intellectuals delivered a letter to the spokesman of the African Union, on a visit to Khartoum, asking the international African organization to join the United Nations in the effort to find a political solution in Sudan, without creating a parallel process of dialogue that would be exploited by the military junta to gain time to perpetuate their role.
According to the signatories of the letter, Egypt, in its position as interim chair of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, exercised its political influence to prevent the adoption of further measures against the Sudanese military government, allied on numerous issues of regional interest.
Then, on February 14, new massive street demonstrations were held in Khartoum and in the main cities of the country, where unfortunately there were incidents that led to the death of two demonstrators and the wounding of at least 170 people. The total number of protesters killed by Sudanese security forces since the coup of October 25 has risen to 81, in a spiral of violence that shows no sign of abating, in the intransigence of the military junta government.
Concerned about the evolution of the protest and the violence that has led once again to the death of some protesters, the president of the Sovereign Council of Transition, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, announced on February 17 during a military ceremony at the air base of Wadi Seidna the readiness of the military junta to “open its arms to all political components of the country”, in order to facilitate national dialogue and the process of reconciliation requested by many parties.
General al Burhan undoubtedly represents a priority element of the interests – above all economic, as well as political – of the military junta and its plan to stay in power, although on different positions from the vice president of the Sovereign Council of Transition, General Dagalo, commander of the Rapid Support Forces. General al Burhan represents the country’s regular armed forces, unlike General Dagalo who instead leads a militia created at the time of Omer al-Bashir’s dictatorship to conduct the most heinous military operations in the Darfur region. Both of them are at the top of a vast network of economic and industrial interests that report to the country’s military organizations, and that generate enormous individual economic benefits within a small circle of senior officers of the armed forces. General al Burhan’s position, however, has always been characterized by a different profile compared to that of Vice President Dagalo, in an attempt to favor the solution of the national crisis with strategies capable – at least ideally – of restoring a national dialogue. General Dagalo, on the contrary, has a more drastic and severe vision of the political crisis, is less inclined to dialogue and does not intend in any way to give in to the demands of Sudanese civil society, especially with regard to the dissolution of the militias of the Rapid Support Forces and the transfer to civilian institutions of the huge economic interests of the military apparatus.
On February 14, on the other hand, numerous officers of the armed forces were suspended from active duty as part of a wide-ranging investigation into an alleged coup attempt. The news was confirmed by the commander of the land forces, General Issam Karar, who, during a television interview, reported an attempt by political forces to convince numerous military officers to join a coup d’état.
There is no indication, however, of the number, rank or identity of military personnel suspended from service.
To further aggravate the situation, on February 17 was announced the early interruption of the trip to Khartoum of the US State Department’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, officially for personal reasons. Having arrived in the Sudanese capital the previous day from Abu Dhabi, Satterfield was due to meet on February 17 with the government’s military leadership, seeking to encourage a way out of the serious political situation. Shortly thereafter, however, he announced that he had to leave the country for personal reasons, which some Sudanese sources attributed to health problems. The meeting with General al Burhan was then conducted by the US chargé d’affaires, Ambassador Lucy Tamlyn, who then also met separately with General Dagalo.