Analysis: Under fire from critics, Sudanese Hamdok fights to save political transition

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Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok addresses the media at the Chancellery in Berlin during an official visit to Germany, February 14, 2020. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke // File Photo

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  • Prime Minister signed an agreement with the military last month
  • Faced with resistance from the street, political parties
  • The October 25 coup overturned the transition to democracy

KHARTOUM, December 9 (Reuters) – Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, reinstated after a coup, must now succeed in a political juggling if he is to realize his ambition to form a government to ensure a civilian footing in the turbulent transition of his country far from autocracy.

To save the process – as well as his reputation – the soft-spoken economist must establish his independence from a military leadership that placed him under house arrest and detained some of his former cabinets for several weeks before reaching a deal. last month for his return.

Failure could lead to further turmoil in Sudan, where the suspension of international economic aid threatens financial disarray at a time when nearly a third of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. The resumption of unrest threatens to destabilize regions, including the eastern border with Ethiopia and Darfur, where dozens of people have been killed this week and displacement has increased this year. Read more

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The agreement reached on November 21 between Hamdok and the military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has angered a large protest movement which militates in favor of democracy since the overthrow in 2019 of the former Islamist president Omar al- Bashir, as well as alienating political factions that shared power with the military.

“The Burhan-Hamdok accord legitimizes the coup and it will not hold up,” said Khalid Omer Yousif, who served as foreign minister until his arrest in October.

“We call on Hamdok, who made a big mistake, to come back to the side of the revolution and the people.”

While local mediators try to chart the course for a rethought transition, the protest movement denounced the soldiers in the street under the slogan: “No partnership, no negotiation, no compromise”.

Although prominent political detainees have been released, activists say others outside the capital Khartoum are still being held.

At a rally on Monday in Bahri, the twin city of Khartoum north of the Blue Nile, several people said they personally had nothing against Hamdok but would continue to march until the army left. power, no matter what happens to the economy.

“For a while we considered Hamdok one of our own,” said Asjad Omer, a 31-year-old accountant. “As soon as he sided with the military, for us any agreement became unnecessary.”

As the sun set, a large convoy of riot police armed with sticks crossed the river towards Bahri on the way to the protests.

FROZEN MEETINGS

Hamdok made decisions to freeze or cancel appointments of Bashir-era veterans between the coup and his return, but it is unclear how much influence Reformers can reclaim in the state bureaucracy.

Some senior officials appointed as part of the transition do not want to return and others have yet to decide, contributing to the uncertainty of ministries that emptied after the takeover.

Hamdok is supposed to appoint technocrats for a new government.

But while the civil coalition that emerged from the uprising against Bashir is ruled out, former army-aligned rebel groups are largely expected to retain positions gained through a 2020 peace accord.

Jibril Ibrahim, who became Minister of Finance after the signing of this agreement by his Justice and Equality Movement, expressed his support for the army before the coup and continued to operate outside the ministry after that. -this.

A new ruling Sovereign Council has been appointed by the military, and a 2019 agreement to transfer the leadership of the transition from military to civilian before the 2023 election has been scrapped.

“He (Hamdok) put himself in a very complex and very limiting situation,” said Kholood Khair of Insight Strategy Partners, a Khartoum-based think tank. “What he needs very quickly is a functioning cabinet that people can support.”

Hamdok could not be reached for comment, but sources close to him said he would step down if his deal with the military failed to garner political support. Read more

Burhan said the economic reforms will not be reversed and told Reuters that an investigation into the victims of the protests has started. Read more

But the coup froze development plans aimed at pulling Sudan out of a long economic crisis and saving public services and infrastructure.

Most primary health care centers are not functioning, and even in some areas of Khartoum broken pipes are dumping sewage onto rutted roads.

Diplomats said Hamdok, who has a reputation for seeking consensus through lengthy consultations, had little time to regain support from the streets and show that he was not simply bidding for money. an army with a history of coups.

“Even if you get back on track, how can you believe that this won’t happen again? Said one.

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Written by Aidan Lewis; edited by John Stonestreet and Aurora Ellis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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