The National - News
Divisions remain and protests in Sudan continue despite deal to reinstate Hamdok
▶ Power-sharing pact welcomed abroad, but real test will be whether it can heal rift at home
The power-sharing agreement that reinstated Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has yet to create common ground among politicians.
Supporters of the agreement, announced by army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan this week, say it is a key step to stabilising Sudan’s fragile transition towards democracy.
But opponents dismissed it as political cover for last month’s military takeover.
Gen Al Burhan proposed his solution to Sudan’s political crisis on television on Sunday. It reinstates Mr Hamdok, releases political prisoners and keeps a hard-won power-sharing agreement struck between the military and civilian politicians in 2019 as the foundation for further talks.
“There was a great sigh of relief,” said Mohammed Badruldin, from the Popular Congress Party, which supports the deal.
Mr Badruldin told The National he believed the agreement would help Sudan escape the cycle of repeated coups in its recent history.
“For many years, we have been living with a high tempo of coups and attempted coups. In some periods, they were happening very quickly – almost as fast as a government is set up, an army general backs a political party to bring it down,” he said.
Mr Badruldin called on all sides to accept the agreement as a way to end a month of “full-blown crisis”.
Mr Hamdok, who will lead a government of technocrats, said he agreed to the deal to prevent casualties from further unrest and to enhance democracy and safeguard the country’s economic recovery.
“Sudanese blood is precious. Let us stop the bloodshed and direct the youth’s energy into building and development,” he said at the signing ceremony in the presidential palace in Khartoum.
Gen Al Burhan said the deal would be inclusive.
“We do not want to exclude anyone except, as we have agreed, the National Congress Party,” he said, referring to ousted president Omar Al Bashir’s former ruling party.
But the agreement made no mention of the Forces of Freedom and Change, the civilian coalition that shared power with the military before the October 25 takeover.
The FFC, which led the protest movement that ousted Al Bashir, says it will not recognise any agreement with the military.
Street protests continue as demonstrators call for full civilian rule.
“This is an insult to the people on the streets – especially after more than 40 protesters have been killed in cold blood in four weeks by the security forces,” said Seddiq Abu Fawwaz, the leader and founder of the Hashd Al Wahdawi party – one of the founders of the FFC.
The number of protesters killed since the military takeover last month rose to 41 on Monday, according to the pro-democracy Sudan Doctors’ Committee.
They said that the latest victim was a 16-year-old boy who was shot in the head while protesting against the power-sharing deal.
The army and police deny using live ammunition to disperse the protesters.
Police have tried to distance themselves from the deaths.
They said their forces used “minimum force” and blamed the protesters for the violence.
Thousands of demonstrators outside the palace in central Khartoum chanted “no to military power” as Mr Hamdok and Gen Al Burhan shook hands on the power-sharing deal.
Although Sudan’s Sovereign Council, which acts as the country’s head of state, is made up of nine civilians and five military officers, the protesters say the balance of power still favours the military.
However, others have welcomed Mr Hamdok’s return. Sudanese political commentator Diauldin Bilal said he believed Mr Hamdok could emerge in a strong position from the deal, although his standing could among protesters could fall.
“Prime Minister Hamdok could be the biggest political winner from what happened. His popularity has taken a severe blow after two years of political tensions and painful economic reforms to emerge as a national hero after the coup,” Mr Bilal told The National.
“He is now back on track and is fully supported by the major regional and world powers, as well as the international financial institutions like the World Bank. But he risks a dramatic fall among the protesters. He is in a real dilemma.”
Mr Bilal said “immense pressure locally and internationally” had forced the army to reinstate Mr Hamdok.
“The army leadership wanted to save face by reaching this deal,” he said.
The new power-sharing arrangement was welcomed by the international community, including the UN and African Union, as well as the UK, Norway and the US, the signatories to the Juba peace agreement.
Under the deal, the Cabinet will still be overseen by a ruling council led by the military.