CAIRO - Sudan's minister of defence, Lt Gen Jamaleldin Omar, has died of a heart attack in South Sudan, where he was taking part in peace negotiations between the government and armed movements in Juba, a spokesman for the Sudanese army said early on Wednesday.
Omar was a member of the military Council that took power after toppling Omar al-Bashir last year and replaced with the sovereign council which runs the country under a 39-month power-sharing deal with a civilian government.
In a statement released later Wednesday, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, who heads the Sovereign Council, said he mourned the death of Omar “who died while struggling for the stability of Sudan” — a reference to talks with rebels to end Sudan’s years-long civil wars.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in fighting in Sudan’s multiple insurgencies, including in the restive western Darfur region. That’s where al-Bashir brutally repressed an uprising in the early 2000s. Since then, the International Criminal Court has sought al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and genocide.
Reaching a peace deal with the rebels is crucial to Sudan’s transitional government as it seeks to rehabilitate the country’s battered economy, attract much-needed foreign aid and deliver the democracy it promises.