Sudan’s PM announces resignation amid political deadlock, widespread protests

CAIRO – Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced his resignation on Sunday amid a political impasse and widespread protests for democracy following a military coup that derails the country’s fragile transition to democratic rule.

Hamdok, a former UN official who is considered the civilian face of the Sudanese transitional government, was reinstated as prime minister in November under an agreement with the military following the October coup. During this period he had failed to appoint a cabinet and his resignation is placing Sudan in political uncertainty amid mounting security and economic challenges.

In a televised national address on Sunday, Hamdok called for a dialogue to agree on a “national charter” and “draw a roadmap” to complete the transition to democracy under the 2019 Constitutional Document regulating the transition period.

“I have decided to return responsibility and declare my resignation as Prime Minister,” he said, adding that his resignation would give a chance for another person to lead the nation and transition to a “civil, democratic country” complete. He did not name a successor.

The prime minister said his efforts to bridge the growing gap and resolve disputes between political forces had failed.

He warned that the ongoing political deadlock since the military came to power could turn into a full blown crisis and damage the country’s already ailing economy.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.John Macdougall / AFP via Getty Images File

“I have tried everything to prevent our country from falling into disaster. Now our nation is going through a dangerous turning point that could threaten its very survival if not urgently corrected, ”he said.

The October coup thwarted Sudan’s democratic plans after a popular uprising in April 2019 forced the military to overthrow longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government.

Four months after al-Bashir’s overthrow, the generals and protesters reached a power-sharing agreement to rule the country through elections in 2023. Military-civil relations, however, have been frayed by the military takeover that threatened to return Sudan to international isolation.

Hamdok’s resignation comes amid a violent crackdown by security agencies against demonstrators denouncing not only the takeover but also the subsequent deal that reinstated him and sidelined the pro-democracy movement. He was returned to office under international pressure in November in an agreement that calls for an independent technocratic cabinet under military supervision under his leadership.

“I have had the honor of serving my compatriot for more than two years. And during his time, sometimes I’ve done well and sometimes I’ve failed, ”Hamdok said.

“We … are ready to respond to those who try to block the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a civilian-led, democratic government.”

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken

The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, an umbrella organization of Sudanese political parties and pro-democratic organizations, rejected the November agreement and continues to work to end military rule. The Alliance accused Hamdok of allowing the military to dominate the government and continued to organize street protests against the coup, which met with violent crackdowns.

In the past two weeks, speculation about a resignation has increased. National and international efforts have failed to convince him to stay in office.

The US State Department called on Sudanese leaders on Twitter to “resolve differences, find consensus and ensure continued civil rule” following Hamdok’s resignation.

It also called for the appointment of the next prime minister and cabinet to be “in line with the (2019) Constitutional Declaration to Achieve the People’s Goals of Freedom, Peace and Justice”.

“It is time to put in an international mediator who can do the job Hamdok was unable to – find a political compromise between the military, the road and the FFC to redesign a roadmap for further development to write, ”said Cameron Hudson, a former US State Department official and Sudan expert at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center

Hours before Hamdok’s resignation speech, Sudanese security forces dispersed pro-democracy protesters by force and killed at least three people, according to the Sudan Doctors Committee, part of the pro-democracy movement. The group said dozens of protesters were injured.

The protests came despite tightened security and blocked bridges and roads in Khartoum and Omdurman. Internet connections were also interrupted prior to the protests, according to the interest group NetBloc. The authorities have used such tactics repeatedly since the October 25 coup.

The death toll on Sunday has increased the number of demonstrators to at least 57 since the coup, according to the doctors’ group. Hundreds were also injured.

Sexual violence allegations have surfaced last month, including rape and gang rape by security forces against female protesters, according to the United Nations.

The ruling Sovereignty Council has promised to investigate the violence against the demonstrators.

On Saturday, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken urged the security forces to “immediately stop the use of lethal force against demonstrators” and hold those responsible to account.

“We do not want to go back to the past and are ready to respond to those who try to block the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a civilian-led, democratic government,” he added.

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