Between the military and the street... Will Hamdok cross Sudan to civilian rule?
Abdalla Hamdok after signing the Sunday agreement with al-Burhan (File Photo)

Abdalla Hamdok returned as head of the transitional government in Sudan, with a political agreement on Sunday, with the army chief, Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and with international support.

But Hamdok has become rejected by the political forces that led a popular movement that pushed the army leadership in 2019 to remove Omar al-Bashir from the presidency, which he reached through a military coup in 1989.

Also, the Sudanese prime minister Abdalla Hamdok is facing a popular rejection that surfaced on the day the agreement was signed, as massive protests denounced Hamdok and his agreement, and demanded full civilian rule and an end to the partnership with the army in the transitional authority.


Sunday’s protests saw one dead and 50 wounded, bringing the death toll to 50 since the army’s measures were announced on October 25, according to the (non-governmental) Sudan Doctors Committee.

The popular rejection seems to have started to increase with the announcement of mass forces for Thursday’s demonstrations, denouncing the political agreement, and calling for civilian rule and the return of the “military” to their barracks.

Those who reject Sunday’s agreement consider that Sunday’s agreement “merely an attempt to legitimize the last coup”, in reference to Burhan’s declaration on October 25 of a state of emergency, the dissolution of the Sovereignty Councils and the transitional ministers, and the dismissal of the governors, which sparked ongoing popular protests in rejection of what the protesters consider a “military coup”.

Following his agreement to sign the agreement with Al-Burhan, Hamdok’s house arrest was lifted, which has been going on since the end of last October, after 6 days of his detention against the background of Al-Burhan’s decisions, according to a military source for The Eastern Herald.

According to observers, even hours before Hamdok signed the political agreement, he had widespread popular support and agreement among most political forces on his leadership of a civilian government.

But the next phase of his premiership, it seems, will not be the same as the previous one, in light of the street movement and the absence of political forces supporting him. As a result of the presence of a military partner suspicious of civilians and their leadership of the authority, according to observers.

Hamdok assumed the premiership on August 21, 2019, within a 53-month transitional period that ends with elections, during which power is shared by the army, civilian forces, and armed movements that signed an agreement with the government to establish peace, on October 3, 2020.

In return for accusing him of carrying out a military coup, Al-Burhan says that he took measures on October 25 to “protect the country from a real danger,” accusing political forces of “inciting chaos,” which these forces deny.

Inject blood and restore the path

After signing the political agreement on Sunday, Hamdok said that this agreement “is built on the basis of sparing the blood of the Sudanese,” and considered that it “helps to break the suffocation internally and externally and restore the path of transition to achieve democracy.”

Hamdok said, in a press statement on Monday, that preserving the economic gains achieved during the past two years was among the reasons that prompted him to return to his position.

He continued, “We expect that the performance of the technocratic government (competent without party affiliation) will have a positive impact on economic performance and the livelihood of citizens.”

Various tools

Youssef Siraj, a political analyst, told The Eastern Herald, “Hamdok’s signing of the political agreement is a strange step that came in response to internal and external pressures in light of great tension in the country.”

He continued, “It is clear that Hamdok took this step according to a different vision that contradicts the demands of the street and even with the political forces that supported it in the previous two years.”

He added: “Hamdok’s speech, during the signing of the agreement, was devoid of any talk about the days of his placement under house arrest and the decisions of Al-Burhan on October 25.”

And he added, “However, Hamdok tackled specific national issues that he will work on, such as the formation of the Electoral Commission, meaning that he goes according to a specific vision to achieve the foundations of the democratic transition by going to the country to civilian rule.”

Sarraj believed that “Hamdok may distance himself from any quarrel with the military in the coming period regarding building a single national army or achieving justice, despite his convictions of the necessity of achieving this.”

He added, “He is so smart that he is going in partnership (with the military) with specific and different tools to achieve the demands of the street, including transitional justice and accountability for the perpetrators of crimes without bringing the country into another crisis.”

Political and civil forces have been calling for justice for the victims since the protests against Al-Bashir erupted in December 2018, and during the transitional period, including the victims of armed dispersal in military uniforms at a sit-in in front of the army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, in June 2019, during the rule of the Military Council Disintegrated, led by Burhan.

That dispersal resulted in the killing of 66 people, according to the Ministry of Health, while the Coalition of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the leader of the popular movement at the time, estimated the deaths at 128.

The Forces for Change held the military council responsible for dispersing the sit-in, while the council said that it had not issued an order to disperse.

With the putschists

As for Youssef Hamad, a political analyst, he considered that “Hamdok signed on Sunday the conditions of Al-Burhan, which made him stage a coup against the legitimate authority and violate the constitutional document.”

This document is specific to power structures during the transitional period and was signed in 2019 by the then ruling military council and the “Declaration of Freedom and Change” forces.

Hamad added to The Eastern Herald that “Hamdok’s sudden move (signing the agreement) can only be seen by looking at his departure from the revolting street line that he supported during the previous period, and he will not support in the future.”

He continued: “Hamdok, by signing the agreement to work with the military authority led by Al-Burhan, has become just a person who joined the coup group that controls the reins of affairs, and he will face popular rejection and continuous protests that will not make his presidency easy.”

And he added, “Hamdok signed a political agreement based on Al-Burhan’s decisions on October 25, including the emergency order that is still in effect, in addition to the supervision of the Sovereignty Council (transitional headed by Al-Burhan) over Hamdok’s executive government.”

Sunday’s agreement includes 14 items, most notably canceling the decision to relieve Hamdok from the prime minister, forming a government of technocrats, releasing all political detainees, and pledging the two parties to work together to complete the democratic path.

He stresses that the constitutional document of 2019 is the main reference during the next stage, with the need to amend it by consensus, in order to ensure and achieve comprehensive political participation for all components of society, except for the (dissolved) National Congress Party.

The agreement also stipulates that the Sovereignty Council will supervise the implementation of the tasks of the transitional period without interfering with the executive work.


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