According to Sudanese officials, the defence minister of Sudan, General Gamal al-Din Omar, has died of a heart attack while on an official visit to neighbouring South Sudan.
Omar was in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, taking part in peace negotiations between his country’s transitional government and rebel groups.
Omar was a member of Sudan’s sovereign council, which took power last year under a 39-month power-sharing deal between the country’s military and the pro-democracy movement that led the uprising against long time President Omar al-Bashir.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Sudanese army said Omar’s death was caused by a heart attack.
For his part, General Abdel Fattah al-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.
Sudan’s transitional government has been engaging in peace talks with rebel groups since October.
The talks currently being held in Juba aims to stabilise the country and help its fragile path to democracy survive following the military’s overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in April last year after months-long mass protests against his rule.
Reaching a peace deal with the rebels is very important for Sudan’s transitional government. The new government seeks to rehabilitate the country’s battered economy, attract much-needed foreign aid and deliver the democracy it promises.