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Sudan paramilitary chief calls coup 'gateway' for return of ousted regime

By AFP - Feb 19,2023 - Last updated at Feb 19,2023

KHARTOUM — The deputy head of Sudan's ruling council Mohamed Hamdan Daglo said on Sunday the 2021 military coup was a "mistake" that has invigorated remnants of ousted ruler Omar Al Bashir's regime.

Sudan has been gripped by deepening political and economic turmoil since the coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, derailing a short-lived transition to civilian rule following Bashir's 2019 ouster.

Daglo said in a televised speech: "Regrettably, it [the coup] has become a gateway for the return of the former regime."

He said he sided with the protest movement that had led to Bashir's removal after three decades in power and agreed with demands for political change, but conceded that he had "sometimes made mistakes".

"The latest of [these mistakes] was October 25," said Daglo, also known as Hemeti, referring to Burhan's military coup.

Daglo, who commands the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), hailed in his speech a tentative agreement signed late last year between Sudan's military leaders and civilian factions as "the country's way out of the current crisis".

The December 5 deal, which also included the main civilian bloc ousted from power in the coup, is the first component of a two-phase political process aimed at restoring Sudan's transition.

While the accord drew some international acclaim, critics at home slammed it as "vague".

Political factions held multiple rounds of talks in recent weeks to hammer out details on key contentious issues including transitional justice, accountability and security reforms.

Daglo reiterated a commitment from the military to end its involvement in politics once a civilian government is installed.

He also vowed to pursue security reforms, including the integration of the RSF into the armed forces.

Army chief Burhan stressed on Friday the importance of such a move, saying: "We want one army... to defend Sudan. Anything else will not be acceptable."

During his speech, Daglo said he "will not allow remnants of the defunct regime to drive a wedge between" the RSF and the regular army, without elaborating.

The RSF was formed in 2013 under Bashir to fight armed rebels. The paramilitary force largely drew its members from the notorious Janjaweed militia, accused by rights groups of atrocities in the 2003 Darfur conflict.

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