Sudan's top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, denied on Sunday that transitional administration military and paramilitary members could run in the country's July 2023 elections.
Sudan has been governed by a joint military-civilian ruling council since August 2019, but civilian members were replaced following an October coup.
In an interview on Saturday, AFP asked Burhan if the transitional Council's military and paramilitary members would be able to vote in the 2023 elections.
Burhan responded that the August 2019 agreement "included a clear clause that all participants in the transitional period will not be allowed to participate in the period that immediately follows it."
However, a landmark 2020 peace deal with rebel groups "granted some transitional period participants the right to become part of the government" that followed the transition, he said.
According to the statement issued on Sunday, Burhan meant that only ex-rebel groups that signed a peace deal in 2020 could run in the planned elections.
Burhan, Sudan's de facto leader since the April 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, deposed the civilian government and declared a state of emergency on October 25, destabilizing the planned three-year transition to full civilian rule.
Burhan's interview with AFP was part of a series he gave to international media the day after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Sudan hostile to journalists in a report submitted to the Security Council.
Burhan signed an agreement on November 21 to reinstate Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was deposed in a coup and held under house arrest for weeks.
The agreement between Burhan and Hamdok was welcomed by the United Nations, the African Union, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Britain and the United States reacted cautiously as well.
However, critics have called it "whitewashing" and accused Hamdok of "betrayal." Pro-democracy activists vowed to keep the military-civilian authority under pressure.
The top general has long maintained that the military's move on October 25 was not a coup, but rather a step to "correct the transition."
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