The National - News

Hamdok says he returned to save Sudan’s economy

- THE NATIONAL

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok says he made a deal with army chiefs to return to his post to keep the country’s economic recovery on course.

The agreement was signed on Sunday, almost a month after he was removed by the country’s senior general.

Mr Hamdok will lead a government of technocrat­s. Protesters and members of his former Cabinet detained in the takeover will be freed as part of the deal.

“Among the reasons for my return is preserving the economic gains and the economic opening to the world,” Mr Hamdok said yesterday.

Prominent political parties and Sudan’s powerful protest movement have rejected the deal. Some say it provides political cover for the military takeover on October 25.

Mr Hamdok, a career UN economist, was first appointed prime minister in 2019 under a power-sharing deal with the military after former president Omar Al Bashir was ousted.

The prime minister has introduced economic reforms, including the lifting of fuel subsidies and a managed float of the country’s currency.

The reforms, monitored by the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund, led creditors to waive more than $50 billion of foreign debt.

That deal was thrown into doubt by the military takeover, while the World Bank and some donors paused badly needed economic assistance.

“We will continue our contacts with internatio­nal financial institutio­ns, and the new budget that will begin in January will proceed on the path of economic reform and open the door to investment in Sudan,” Mr Hamdok told Reuters.

The civilian coalition that

shared power with the military before the takeover and former ministers have rejected the agreement owing to the violent repression of protests during the past month.

At least 40 people were killed in the violence.

But Mr Hamdok said the new government could help to improve Sudan’s economy, which has suffered a prolonged crisis involving one of the world’s highest rates of inflation and shortages of basic goods.

The government could also work towards completing a peace deal signed with some rebel groups in Juba last year to end years of internal conflict, he said.

“Implementi­ng the Juba Agreement and completing the peace processes with groups that did not sign the Juba Agreement are at the top of the new government’s agenda,” he said.

“We are committed to the democratic path, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and greater opening to the world.”

Mr Hamdok’s return came after internatio­nal calls were made for Sudan to resume a transition to democracy that had been overseen by the civilian-military government.

The UAE has welcomed Sunday’s agreement to complete the process.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Internatio­nal Co-operation expressed faith in the ability of the Sudanese people to “overcome the challenges of the ongoing stage thanks to the constituti­onal, legal and political

compromise that governs the transition­al period”.

Egypt and the Organisati­on for Islamic Co-operation also praised the deal signed by Mr Hamdok and Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, the leader of Sudan’s military.

The US said the step was encouragin­g but it was looking for more action to be taken before it resumed full aid to Sudan.

“I am encouraged by reports that talks in Khartoum will lead to the release of all political prisoners, reinstatem­ent of Prime Minister Hamdok, lifting of the state of emergency and resumption of co-ordination,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

But Sunday’s announceme­nt was not enough to ease the

US’s strained relations with Khartoum, he said.

He called for more talks and efforts “to complete key transition­al tasks on a civilian-led path to democracy in Sudan”.

The US became the largest donor of humanitari­an aid to Sudan following the removal of Al Bashir in 2019.

It provided about $337 million to support the transition­al government this year and has helped Khartoum in its talks with the IMF.

Sudan’s reforms, monitored by the IMF, led creditors to waive more than $50 billion of debt

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 ?? AFP; AP ?? Sudanese protesters form a chain during a demonstrat­ion in the capital Khartoum that called for a return to civilian rule and the rejection of a deal that led to the return of Abdalla Hamdok, below right, as the country’s prime minister
AFP; AP Sudanese protesters form a chain during a demonstrat­ion in the capital Khartoum that called for a return to civilian rule and the rejection of a deal that led to the return of Abdalla Hamdok, below right, as the country’s prime minister

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