UN Chief Calls On Sudanese To Support PM Hamdok

Sudan has seen itself immersed in a huge political and social turmoil since the seizing of power by the military on October 25. Now the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the Sudanese people to support reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to see a “peaceful transition towards a true democracy.”

Guterres said he understands “the indignation” of Sudanese, “but would like to appeal for common sense. We have a situation which is, yes, not perfect, but which could allow for a transition towards democracy.” He added that political parties should be preparing for the future elections in 18 months while “the Electoral Commission is to be set up and the judicial institutions of the country need to be established, too, so that the whole thing can work.”

The country has seen strong opposition towards the reappointment of Hamdok as a Prime Minister by the military after a deal signed on November 21. One of the latest rallies took place on Tuesday 30 when protesters marched in the capital Khartoum and other cities to demand that the armed forces stay out of government since they seized power in October.

Turbulent politics leading up and after the military coup

Abdalla Hamdok was released after a month of detention following the military coup led by Sudan’s top Army General, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. In 2019 Hamdok and the General formally signed a power-sharing deal between the military and the civil society after ousting long-time, ruthless dictator Omar al-Bashir. Although Sudan committed to transitioning to full civilian rule, with a new constitution and elections, in 2023, al-Bashir’s regime steered that military transition. Even before the coup, in recent months, Sudan’s bid for democracy has been tenuous.

The military coup last month shocked that democratic endeavour when civilian leaders were seized and detained, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, ambassadors who resisted the takeover were fired, and the Internet was shut down — not only a flagrant but a costly violation of freedom of expression and access to information.

The volatile month offered a bleak view of Sudan’s democratic future, but the civil society which brought about the revolution in 2019 remains well organized. Large-scale protests were scheduled for October 30 in defiance against the coup which is proof that the military cannot undo all of Sudan’s democratic gains.

Along with addressing international and regional pressures, the deal to reinstate Prime Minister Hamdok, and free other political prisoners, seeks to end the civilian unrest. Of the agreement, Prime Minister Hamdok said: “signing this framework political agreement will open doors to address all the pending issues of the transitional period over the past two years and under this partnership we have managed to achieve a lot. We have brought Sudan back into the international community, lifted its name from the terrorist blacklist, and many other achievements. However, we still have many challenges lying ahead.” And after Hamdok’s reinstatement, General al-Burhan said, “We will continue to work towards preserving the transitional period until all your dreams of democracy, peace, and justice are achieved,” and in televised statements said that under military oversight Hamdok would lead an independent technocratic cabinet until elections can be held.

In separate statements, the Pro-democracy group Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) and Sudan’s Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition oppose the deal. “The treacherous agreement signed today between Hamdok and al-Burhan is totally rejected, and concerns only its parties” a statement by the SPA said, and the FFC says, “We affirm our clear and previously announced position: no negotiation, no partnership and no legitimacy for the putschists.” The FFC is also calling for continued civil disobedience, and that the people who backed the coup should face justice.

Tens of thousands of people joined scheduled rallies on Sunday in Khartoum and its twin cities of Omdurman and Bahri. Al Jazeera reports that Hamdok, once a hero for Sudan’s democratic project, quickly became the villain for some. “Hamdok has sold the revolution,” protestors shouted after the deal was announced.

Though Hamdok says that the agreement ensures he has the “power and authority” to form a government in “absolute liberty and without any pressure,” it remains unclear how much power the upcoming government is going to hold.

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