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Sudan’s army chief Abdel-Fattah Burhan this week lifted a state of emergency that was imposed after last year’s military coup, a move aimed at quelling the months-long mass protests that have gripped the country, the Middle East Eye reported.

Burhan’s decision follows recommendations by senior military officials to end the state of emergency and release all individuals detained under the emergency law. It also comes shortly after two protesters were killed during a pro-democracy demonstration in the capital, Khartoum, over the weekend.

The United Nations envoy for Sudan, Volker Perthes, criticized the killings and urged military leaders to lift the state of emergency.

Sudan has been plagued by unrest after the military launched a coup in October, putting an end to the African country’s efforts to transition to democracy following the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019 amid a popular uprising, the Associated Press noted.

Sudan had been ruled by a fragile sovereign council made up of civilian and military leaders but that ended after the October takeover. Since then, thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand a return to civilian government. The military has responded by launching a bloody crackdown that has killed nearly 100 people and wounded more than 4,300.

Despite calls for the return of civilian rule, Burhan and his officials said they will only hand over power to an elected administration. Elections are scheduled to take place in July 2023.

Meanwhile, the UN, the African Union, and an eight-nation East African regional organization have been leading coordinated efforts to bridge the divide.

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