The National - News
Hamdok says he returned to save Sudan’s economy
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