Abdel Fattah al-Burhan

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Abdel Fattah al-Burhan
عبد الفتاح البرهان
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, 2019 (cropped).jpg
Burhan in 2019
Chairman of the Transitional Sovereignty Council
Assumed office
25 October 2021
Prime MinisterAbdalla Hamdok
Osman Hussein (acting)
DeputyMohamed Hamdan Dagalo
Preceded bySovereignty Council
Chairman of the Sovereignty Council[1]
In office
12 April 2019 – 25 October 2021
Prime MinisterAbdalla Hamdok
DeputyMohamed Hamdan Dagalo[2]
Preceded byHimself
Succeeded byHimself
Chairman of the Transitional Military Council
In office
12 April 2019 – 21 August 2019
DeputyMohamed Hamdan Dagalo[3]
Preceded byAhmed Awad Ibn Auf
Succeeded bySovereignty Council
Personal details
Born (1960-07-11) 11 July 1960 (age 61)
Gandatu, Northern Directorate (present-day River Nile), Sudan
Military service
Allegiance Sudan
Branch/service Sudanese Army
Years of service1980–present
RankSudan Army - OF09.svg General[4]
Battles/warsSecond Sudanese Civil War
War in Darfur

Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan (Arabic: عبد الفتاح عبد الرحمن البرهان; born 11 July 1960)[5] is a Sudanese politician and Sudanese Army general who is the de facto head of state of Sudan as the Commander-In-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces after leading a coup d'état in October 2021 that deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.[6]

Al-Burhan was the former chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, the country's collective head of state, which was established following the Sudanese Revolution in 2019 to guide a Sudanese transition to democracy.[7] After the military seized power in the October 2021 coup, Al-Burhan dissolved the Sovereignty Council, which previously shared power between the country's military and civilians.[7][8] The 2020 Juba Agreement allowed al-Burhan to continue to lead the Sovereignty Council for another 20 months, rather than stepping down as planned in February 2021.[9] Until August 2019, he was also the Chairman of the Transitional Military Council after former Chairman Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf resigned and transferred control in April 2019.[10][11] He was formerly the General Inspector of the Sudanese Armed Forces.[12]

In May 2019, Al-Burhan's first international trip was to Egypt to meet Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.[13] His second visit was to the United Arab Emirates.[14]

Early life and education[edit]

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was born in 1960 in the village of Gandatu in northern Sudan, to a Sufi family. Al-Burhan studied elementary and intermediate level in his village school, and later moved to Shendi to complete his education before joining the Sudanese Military College among the 31st batch.[15]

Military career[edit]

After graduating from the Military Academy, Al-Burhan worked in Khartoum, as part of the Sudanese army, and participated in the fighting fronts in the Darfur war and in the Second Sudanese Civil War in South Sudan and other regions. He later traveled to Egypt and then to Jordan to receive training courses in his military field until in 2018 he was appointed commander of the ground forces of the army.[16]

Al-Burhan held several positions throughout his career as he began as a soldier with the Border Guard Forces and later became commander of this force before becoming Deputy Chief of Staff of the Ground Forces Operations and then Chief of Staff of the Sudanese Army in February 2018 before he served as Inspector General of the Army for a period of time.[17] By 26 February 2019, during the massive protests that swept the country and demanded the fall of Omar al-Bashir's regime, Al-Burhan was elevated to the rank of lieutenant general.

Chairmanship of Military Council[edit]

Al-Burhan with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in October 2019
Al-Burhan with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August 2020
Al-Burhan with Israel's Minister of Intelligence, Eli Cohen, in January 2021

Shortly after his appointment, Al-Burhan ordered the release of all jailed prisoners who had been arrested by his predecessor, Omar al-Bashir, in a televised address.[18]

Khartoum massacre[edit]

In early June 2019, following Al-Burhan's and Dagalo's visits to the Egyptian, UAE and Saudi leaders, the Sudanese Security Forces and Rapid Support Forces, including Janjaweed militias, led by al-Burhan and his deputy cracked down on peaceful protests in Sudan, starting with the 3 June Khartoum massacre.[19][20] Human rights groups said that peaceful protesters were killed and about forty of the bodies were thrown in the river Nile, hundreds were tortured, violated and raped in the streets of Khartoum.[19][21]

Al-Burhan's talks with the opposition on forming a combined government were then cancelled. During the days that followed, the TMC arrested several of the opposition leaders.[22][23]

Iyad el-Baghdadi interpreted the decision-making by the TMC under Al-Burhan's leadership as being strongly influenced by the general context of the Saudi, UAE and Egyptian leaders being afraid of democratic movements.[24] Mahmoud Elmutasim, a political activist and doctor who graduated from the University of Khartoum, similarly stated that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are opposed to the existence of democracies in the Middle East, since if "the idea of democracy itself [should] ever take root, or become widespread in the Middle East," then it would constitute a threat to the governmental systems of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.[25]

Internet shutdown[edit]

Several human rights organisations including Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the Al-Burhan-led TMC for shutting down the internet in June 2019.[26] A spokesperson, Shamseldin Kabbashi, stated that the internet would be shut down for a long time because it represented a threat to national security.[27][28] The move was described by HRW as a "gross violation of human rights". International media saw this as a sign of dictatorship and condemned the act.[29] Many see it as an attempt to hide what Al-Burhan's allied militia, known as the Janjaweed, were doing in Khartoum and to delay uploading evidence of the violations that took place on 3 June 2019 and in the days that followed.[30]

Civilian government negotiations[edit]

Numerous protesters asked for a civilian government. On Saturday 13 April 2019, Al-Burhan announced that a civilian government would soon be established. Al-Burhan promised that the transitional period would take a maximum of two years.[18] Negotiations started to take place with the opposition leaders to achieve this.

In late May 2019, Al-Burhan visited the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Iyad el-Baghdadi, a human rights activist who became famous during the Arab Spring, later interpreted these visits (together with a visit by TMC deputy leader Dagalo to Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia) as encouragements for the TMC to cancel negotiations with the opposition.[24] This comment by Iyad el-Baghdadi and recent developments and his ties to the Egyptian brotherhood which he established long ago when he studied in Egypt has led to the popular belief that Al-Burhan has no interest to lead Sudan to a democratic and civilian state. Despite his promise to establish a civilian government by February 2021 as demanded by numerous protesters, his group seems to consistently isolate the civilian government led by Hamdok in key government decisions.[24]

2021 coup d'état[edit]

On 25 October 2021, Al-Burhan led the October 2021 Sudanese coup d'état to overthrow the civilian government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.[31] [32] On 21 November 2021, all political prisoners were freed and Abdalla Hamdok was reinstated as prime minister as part of an agreement with the civilian political parties.[33] Hamdok was also allowed to return leading the transitional government.

On December 4, 2021, Al-Burhan told Reuters in an interview that the Sudanese military will "exit politics" following the elections scheduled for July 2023, stating, "When a government is elected, I don't think the army, the armed forces, or any of the security forces will participate in politics. This is what we agreed on and this is the natural situation."[34]

On 9 December 2021, Al-Burhan warned of possible measures against foreign diplomatic missions for their alleged incitement against the Sudanese army. He also reiterated his commitment to the political agreement struck with Prime Minister Hamdok in November 2021.[35] On December 20 2021, Al-Burhan voiced his support for Hamdok, adding that recent appointments had been made as the result of co-ordination between him and the prime minister and in line with the November 21st 2021 political agreement.[36][37]

On 31 December 2021, in a speech, Al-Burhan said he was committed to “building all the institutions of transitional government and holding free, fair, and transparent elections at their scheduled time", in July 2023.[38]


  1. ^ "Sudan forms 11-member sovereign council, headed by al-Burhan". Al Jazeera. 20 August 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Sudan: Constitutional Decree On Appointment of Sovereignty Council Issued". allAfrica.com. 21 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Sudanese militia commander waits in wings after president ousted". Gulf Times. 23 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Sudan's Burhan, from relative unknown to regional player". France24. 3 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Sudan transition: Lt-Gen Burhan sworn in as Sovereign Council chief". BBC News. 21 August 2019. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Seven killed, 140 hurt in protests against Sudan military coup". Reuters. 25 October 2021. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  7. ^ a b Declan Walsh, Abdi Latif Dahir & Simon Marks, Sudan's Military Seizes Power, Casting Democratic Transition Into Chaos, New York Times (October 25, 2021).
  8. ^ Ivana Kottasová & Eliza Mackintosh, The military has taken over in Sudan. Here's what happened, CNN (October 26, 2021).
  9. ^ "Sudanese-Egyptian Military Relations and Geopolitics: Implications for Powering the GERD". African Arguments. 17 December 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  10. ^ "Sudan's Ibn Auf steps down as head of military council". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Sudan coup leader Awad Ibn Auf steps down". BBC. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  12. ^ Abdelaziz, Khalid (12 April 2019). "Head of Sudan's Military Council Steps Down, a Day After President Toppled". Reuters. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  13. ^ "Sudan interim military council chief Al-Burhan meets with Egypt's President El-Sisi". Arab News. 25 May 2019.
  14. ^ "Sudan military council chief to visit UAE". Alarabiya. 26 May 2019.
  15. ^ "Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the general who leads Sudan". France 24. 25 October 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  16. ^ "Who is new head of Sudan's transitional council". Anadolu Agency. 13 April 2019. Archived from the original on 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Who is Abdel Fattah al-Burhan". Alhurra. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Civilian government to be established in Sudan: new head of military council". Reuters. 13 April 2019.
  19. ^ a b "'Bodies pulled from Nile' after Sudan crackdown". 5 June 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  20. ^ correspondent, Jason Burke Africa; Salih, and Zeinab Mohammed (5 June 2019). "Sudan paramilitaries threw dead protesters into Nile, doctors say". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Sudan military offers talks after allegedly killing 100 protesters". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  22. ^ "2 Sudan rebel leaders arrested after peace talks with Ethiopian PM". Middle East Monitor. 9 June 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  23. ^ "'Bloody massacre': Sudan forces kill at least 35, protesters say". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  24. ^ a b c el-Baghdadi, Iyad (11 June 2019). "The Princes Who Want to Destroy Any Hope for Arab Democracy". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Chaos reigns in Sudan as military clings to power amid information blackout". TRT World. 11 June 2019. Archived from the original on 11 June 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  26. ^ "Sudan crisis: Internet restored – but only for lawyer". BBC News. 24 June 2019. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  27. ^ Arab, The New (12 June 2019). "Sudan generals 'will not restore' internet because it poses a threat". alaraby. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  28. ^ Mitchell, Charlotte. "Internet blackouts: The rise of government-imposed shutdowns". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  29. ^ "Sudan: End Network Shutdown Immediately". Human Rights Watch. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  30. ^ "To end mass protests, Sudan has cut off Internet access nationwide. Here's why". The Washington Post. 16 June 2019. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  31. ^ "Sudan's Burhan declares state of emergency, dissolves government". Reuters. 25 October 2021.
  32. ^ "Sudan coup 2021: Live updates". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  33. ^ "Sudan's Hamdok reinstated as PM after political agreement signed". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  34. ^ "Sudan's Burhan says military will exit politics after 2023 elections". Reuters. 5 December 2021. Retrieved 5 December 2021.
  35. ^ "Burhan Warns Diplomats Not to Interfere in Sudan's Internal Affairs". Asharq AL-awsat. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  36. ^ "Sudan army chief says he supports PM Hamdok". Middle East Monitor. 21 December 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  37. ^ "Ousted Sudanese Premier Hamdok to restore his post: Sources". Middle East Monitor. 21 November 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  38. ^ Staff, The New Arab (1 January 2022). "Sudan general promises free elections as protest death toll rises". Archived from the original on 1 January 2022. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
Political offices
New title
Position established
Chairman of the Sovereignty Council
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Preceded by Chairman of the Transitional Military Council
Succeeded by
Position abolished