At first glance, it looks like a stage victory for those forces demanding an end to military rule in Sudan.

Abd al-Fattah al-Burhan, the army commander and de facto head of state, surprisingly announced on state television that the military would withdraw from a political dialogue so that civilian groups would end their boycott of the format.

He called on the opposition groups to start an "immediate and serious dialogue" in order to initiate the transition to democracy in Sudan.

The military will "not stand in the way of such a move," al-Burhan said in his speech on Monday evening.

Christian Meier

Political correspondent for the Middle East and Northeast Africa.

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Shortly after his speech, however, new protests erupted in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, as has happened almost every week since the military seized power in October last year.

Al Jazeera news channel quoted one of the protesters as saying they had no faith in al-Burhan.

"We just want him to go, for good."

It is now almost nine months since the military violently ended the experiment of a joint civil-military interim government on October 25 last year.

This was set up after mass protests in the spring of 2019 drove long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir out of office.

However, relations between the civilian groups and the army, which had been a mainstay of al-Bashir's rule, had always been difficult.

Committees refuse to negotiate with the military

Immediately after the coup in October, army chief al-Burhan promised that he would reinstate a civilian interim government and that the army would stick to the goal of free elections.

Since then, numerous Sudanese have taken to the streets to protest against military rule.

The security forces regularly use violence to quell the protests;

According to a doctors' association close to the opposition, 113 people have been killed since the end of October.

Last Thursday there was the worst escalation in months: nine people were killed and around 630 injured in a large-scale demonstration in and around Khartoum.

Since then, however, thousands have gathered again and held sit-ins.

The protest is mainly carried out by local "resistance committees".

They refuse to negotiate with the military, demanding that the generals relinquish power first.

The military leadership, meanwhile, insists that it will only hand over power to an "elected prime minister".

Al-Burhan has again pledged that the "Transitional Sovereignty Council" he is leading will be dissolved as soon as a new government is formed.

The army has officially declared its willingness to take part in a dialogue initiative that goes back to three organizations: the United Nations, the African Union and the East African community of states IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority in Development).

While the "resistance committees" reject this dialogue, there was a first meeting between representatives of the military and the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change (FFC) in early June.

This coalition of civil society groups played an important role in overthrowing al-Bashir.

UN Special Envoy Volker Perthes said last week that the FFC and the military had come closer to an agreement.

After the escalation of violence last Thursday, however, this seems to have become obsolete.

FFC leaders dismissed Perthes' statements;

there is no dialogue with the military.

Al-Burhan's statements may primarily serve the purpose of further dividing the opposition.

That the military is not serious about handing over power can be inferred from another announcement: Al-Burhan said that a new "Supreme Council of the Armed Forces" would be created as part of the transition to democracy.

He should be responsible for security and defense matters, but also for "related tasks", in coordination with the future government.

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