The National - News
HAMDOK TO FORM CABINET ‘WITHOUT PRESSURE’
▶ Sudanese PM wants government to focus on new constitution and vote
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has said an agreement he signed with the country’s senior generals, who took charge of the country last month, will give him the authority to form his own independent government.
A day after signing a deal with military chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, Mr Hamdok said yesterday that the government would focus on rewriting Sudan’s constitution and holding elections as scheduled.
The agreement envisions the formation of an independent, technocratic Cabinet led by Mr Hamdok until elections can be held in 2023.
It also stipulates that all political prisoners are released.
While the government will be subject to military oversight, Mr Hamdok said he would have the power to appoint ministers.
“This was a key part of the political agreement we signed, that the prime minister should have the power and the authority to form an independent technocratic government, in complete liberty and without any pressures,” he was quoted as saying by AP.
That government will replace the one Mr Hamdok had led since August 2019 under a power-sharing deal between the military and an alliance of pro-democracy groups.
That deal was agreed to after months of protests that led the military to oust former president Omar Al Bashir.
On Monday, 12 ministers resigned, including foreign minister Mariam Al Mahdi.
She and her colleagues stepped down in protest against Mr Hamdok’s decision to sign a deal with the military without consulting his Cabinet, she said.
“We expected him to call us even for 10 minutes before he goes to this gathering. But none of that happened,” Ms Mahdi told the Atlantic Council think tank.
The deal has also been rejected by the country’s main pro-democracy groups, including the Forces of Freedom and Change, the political power base of Mr Hamdok’s former government.
Opponents of the agreement say it legitimises the military takeover.
The armed forces said the takeover only happened because some politicians tried to hijack the policymaking process, causing divisions to widen in the civilian government.
Pro-democracy groups have organised civil disobedience campaigns since the military takeover.
Resistance committees and the Sudanese Professionals Association, which was among the groups that led the demonstrations that toppled Al Bashir, organised protests against the takeover.
Internet services have been down across most of the country since October 25 and phone coverage remains patchy.
The resistance committees in the capital Khartoum condemned Mr Hamdok for signing the deal with the military.
“But those who believe in the revolution should know that it does not die,” the groups said.
“We in the committees of Khartoum hereby declare that the deal which was struck does not concern us at all and we are adhering to our position: no negotiations, no partnership and no bargaining.
“November 25 will be a day of loyalty to the martyrs and to reassert our resolve to bring
down the coup leaders, both military and civilians.”
Supporters of the new deal hope Mr Hamdok can work with the generals to pave the way for elections, using his position as well as international support to put the political transition back on track.
But fears remain of a return to the tug-of-war of the past two years, which embittered both sides of the political crisis.
The pro-democracy movement has vowed to keep up its street protests until the military hands over power to civilians. A prolonged stand-off could cause wider disorder.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Mr Hamdok and separately to Gen Al Burhan on Monday.
He urged “both leaders to work rapidly to put Sudan’s democratic transition back on track”, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Mr Blinken said the leaders should move to consolidate their agreement, “including creating a transitional legislative council, judicial structures, electoral institutions and a constitutional convention”, Mr Price said.
The military takeover has drawn international criticism. The World Bank paused economic aid, while some major companies backtracked on signing lucrative contracts linked to the nation.
Western powers put economic assistance to Sudan on hold and said that relief for tens of billions of dollars of foreign debt was in jeopardy.
Opposition to the deal between Mr Hamdok and the military emphasises the fragility of Sudan’s democratic transition and leaves Mr Hamdok without a power base to back him as he continues his ambitious economic reforms.
The latest development does not bode well for the stability of Sudan at a time when its economic woes are deep and most of its 40 million people are struggling to make ends meet.