Sudan: El Burhan Defends Role of Sudan Armed Forces in Economy

Khartoum — The Chairman of the Sovereign Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, has accused unnamed parties of attempting to cause a rift between the SAF and the Sudanese people.

In a speech to high-ranking army officers at the Army Command in Khartoum on Sunday, El Burhan denied rumours attributing the economic crisis in the country to SAF* companies and investments and "their manipulation of the economy".

According to El Burhan, "the lack of clarity of vision among those in charge of the economy and hidden agendas among some political parties lies behind the promotion of the rejection of the influence of the armed forces in the national economy... "

The chairman of Sudan's Sovereign Council accused the entities that he did not name of "working to acquire goods, property, and assets of SAF companies and investments for themselves".

He said that the SAF companies proposed support "without any harm" to the Ministry of Finance by offering aid "to alleviate the living distress of many Sudanese, but they did not respond".

According to Lt Gen Yasir El Ata, member of the Sovereign Council and head of the Empowerment Elimination, Anti-Corruption, and Funds Recovery Committee**, "all companies of the military establishment" originate from a social security fund for the military personnel. Fees for the fund are deducted from their monthly salary since it was established in 1972.

In a press conference held by the Committee at the Republican Palace in Khartoum yesterday evening, El Ata stated that all SAF companies are subject to public reviews, taxes and the Customs Law.

He said the military is ready "to sit with the government to develop integrated plans and smart partnerships with banks and the private sector in order to recover the national economy and improve the people's livelihoods".

The chairman of the Sovereign Council has presented a number of initiatives "within the framework of the integration of the military and civil sectors, to contribute to the recovery of the national economy, but these initiatives have not been implemented due to the slow pace of the executive power".

Yesterday, the Anti-Corruption Committee relieved the chairperson and members of the National Human Rights Commission from their duties. Members of the board of directors of the Nile Bank and executive managers of the Family Bank were dismissed as well.

The Committee further ordered the retrieval of shares of a number of forex companies.

The contracts of 23 staff members of the International University of Africa were terminated, and the president and members of the university's Board of Trustees were removed.

Other decisions include the termination of service for 151 judges, 412 employees in the electricity sector, 23 employees of the Sudanese Organisation for Standards and Metrology, 22 staff members of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, 14 of the Hajj and Umra [pilgrimages to Mekka] Administration, and 10 employees of the Fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence] Council.

* The Constitutional Declaration, signed by the then Military Council and the Forces for Freedom and Change on August 17 last year, stipulated that the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), set up by the ousted Al Bashir regime in August 2013, would be integrated into the SAF. At the same time however, the militia remains a force unto itself, commanded by Mohamed Hamdan 'Hemeti', Deputy President of Sudan's Sovereign Council. The RSF militia has reportedly built up a vast business empire that captured not only a large part of the country's gold industry, but has huge interests in many sectors of the Sudanese economy as well.

** Empowerment (tamkin) is the term with which the ousted government of Omar Al Bashir supported its affiliates in state affairs by granting them far-going privileges, including government functions and the setting-up of various companies. The Empowerment Elimination, Anti-Corruption, and Funds Recovery Committee was established by the new government in the end of last year, with the aim to purge Sudan of the remnants of the Al Bashir regime.

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