Analysis: PM Hamdok’s resignation risks Sudan slide-back into quandary

Analysis: PM Hamdok’s resignation risks Sudan slide-back into quandary

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok resigned from his post on January 2 after a "million-man" protest in the capital Khartoum, pushing back the country into a state of crisis and uncertainty three years after the revolution that ousted the long-serving President Omar al-Bashir. The North African state is now a scene of a rift between the military and the politicians who feel their revolutionary ideals betrayed.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Sudan's Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok resigned from his post on January 2 after a "million-man" protest in the capital Khartoum, pushing back the country into a state of crisis and uncertainty three years after the revolution that ousted the long-serving President Omar al-Bashir. The North African state is now a scene of a rift between the military and the politicians who feel their revolutionary ideals betrayed. 

The revolution of the Sudanese against the 30-year dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir sparked on December 18, 2018, and after months of controversy and conflict, on April 1, 2019, the military council ousted the president. Following the final victory of the revolution in a democratic process, Abdullah Hamdok was elected PM on August 21, 2019. But after a military coup on October 25, 2021, he was abducted and taken to an unknown location. 

Following this incident, external and internal pressure on the military to release Hamdok prompted the army chief and representative in the power-sharing council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Hamdouk to sign an agreement on November 21, 2021, which would include the return of Hamdok to the post, the formation of a technocratic government, and the release of political prisoners. However, political and civil forces opposed the agreement as an attempt to legitimize the coup and pledged to continue protests until full civilian rule is achieved. 

Hamdok incapable of checking the coup organizers 

Hamdok's resignation more than any other thing is driven by differences and challenges with the army. The most significant root of his dispute with the military leaders is the implementation of a political document that was agreed between him and al-Burhan following his return to power in November. 

In fact, the agreement of Sudanese political parties was one of the preconditions that the resigned PM continued to emphasize. On January 1, Hamdok set a one-day deadline for the country's political parties to reach an agreement and settle the crisis as soon as possible by forming a government. But apparently the Sudanese ruling council was far from any constructive agreement. 

Also, Hamdok was in deep conflict of views with the army commanders about return of a civil government and rule of the country by the civilians after October 25 coup. But this aim was not realized, as showed his resignation remarks. In his resignation speech, he said: "Even after the October 25 coup, we signed an agreement with the military to try to restore democracy and end the killing of protesters, release prisoners, preserve the achievements of the past two years, and see military adherence to its commitments. I tried to protect Sudan from the danger of falling into disaster. We have tried to expand freedoms and remove our country from the list state sponsors of terrorism. We tried to take the country out of international isolation and bring it back to the international community." 

Another major issue in Hamdok's resignation was his loss of political legitimacy in the eyes of the protesters and the pervasive problems in the country. A large number of protesters considered him no longer trustworthy and even involved in the October 25 military coup. Also, the pervasiveness of issues such as the economic downturn, international isolation, corruption and foreign debt of more than $60 billion, the disorder in social, educational, health services, and widespread tribal disputes had left him frustrated with the reforms and thus think resignation. 

Protesters seek to regain hijacked December 2018 revolution 

Sudan has been protesting since October 25, condemning al-Burhan-declared state of emergency, dissolving the transitional and ministerial governing councils, and ousting Hamdok. These are actions the Sudanese political parties refer to as a military coup. 

The Sudanese now more than any other time believe that their revolution was betrayed and all of their efforts towards establishment of a democratic system have been derailed. On the one hand, the demonstrators strongly opposed al-Burhan who led the October 28 coup and led a return to dictatorship and on the other hand they labeled Hamdok a "traitor" for him not countering the coup plotters. 

Since the earlier hours of the coup that killed 45 and injured hundreds, the people took to the streets in a push to take back their revolution. On the third anniversary of the revolution, protestors took various parts of the capital and chanted "death to al-Burhan."  They also expressed anger with not handing over the power to the civilians and accused Hamdok of "treason" and "contribution to return of the past rule."  

On January 2, a massive rally was organized, calling for return to government of civilians. Army and security forces showed an iron fist, killing 2. Also, on Tuesday, once again a huge rally was held in Khartoum to put strains on the military rulers to step down. Security forces were deployed in all areas of the capital and surrounding cities at the same time as new calls for protests against the military coup were made. The Tuesday protests were the first since the resignation of Hamdok, and are expected to stir clashes between the military and the people. 

Cairo and Riyadh pushing to contain the crisis 

In the aftermath of Hamdok's resignation, Khartoum is now facing a governance crisis more than ever. Whether the Presidential Council has the ability to placate the protesters and control the crisis and who can be Hamdok's replacement are key questions Sudan is currently facing. 

Egypt seeks a role. Cairo seeks with full power, and possibly representing Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, to settle the crisis in neighboring Sudan. According to Al-Arabi Al-Jadid newspaper, citing Egyptian sources, a top Egyptian intelligence official recently visited Khartoum. The official reportedly carried a message of the Egyptian leader about ways to calm the situation. 

The Egyptian official met with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, as well as Hamdok, hours before the latter announcing resignation. The Egyptian official gave Cairo-backed al-Burhan the outlook for Sudan's next phase, so that the country does not become a fireball affecting the whole region. Actually, Cairo is concerned that Sudan protests could set examples for the Egyptians to seek ouster of army chief-turned-president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. 

Pieces of evidence show that interactions between Saudi Arabia and Egypt are ongoing and both share a view of the Sudan's future. According to a Saudi proposal, if Hamdok's alternative is agreed upon, he would be backed by an economic aid package in which Riyadh would take part. This is in addition to Egyptian-offered aids to assuage the combustible conditions. In other words, Cairo, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi want to name new PM and bring stability to Sudan by supporting him financially.



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