Hamdok leaves with goodwill from donors and peace partners

Sunday January 09 2022

Protesters march towards the Presidential Palace during a demonstration on January 6, 2022 demanding the restoration of civilian rule in Khartoum, Sudan. PHOTO | AFP


Sudan’s military junta risks losing international support if they go ahead with naming a government without consulting civilian movements that have been leading public protests in the past two months.

The political situation unravelled quickly this past week following the January 2 resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. He had only returned to the post in November 2021 following the October 25, 2021 coup that had toppled his government. After initially detaining him under house arrest, the junta later freed Dr Hamdok after he agreed to resume premiership.

The military had hoped that Hamdok’s reappointment would pacify the protesting civilians opposed to the coup of October 25. His departure now means the junta still has the protesters to deal with. On Wednesday, Sudan’s international partners said the junta must work with civilians to form the next government, or that doors for donor money will be shut, including support for crucial reform programmes.

“The European Union and the Troika will not support a prime minister or government appointed without the involvement of a broad range of civilian stakeholders,” said the European Union in a joint statement with the US, UK and Norway, commonly known as the Troika.

“We look forward to working with a government and a transitional parliament, which enjoy credibility with the Sudanese people and can lead the country to free and fair elections as a priority.”

Mélanie Joly, the Canadian Foreign Minister reiterated calls for a civilian-led leadership. “Canada calls on all parties to work toward the common goal of getting this transition back on track. The gains made since the Sudanese revolution must not be lost,” she said on Wednesday.


“Canada stands with the Sudanese people and supports their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Canada calls for a quick resumption of the transition to democracy and for an immediate end to all forms of violence being committed against protesters.”

The junta is well aware of the repercussions should it defy this, even though it has received significant support from Middle Eastern governments.

Lenders paused activation of Sudan’s eligibility for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) status which would have allowed Sudan’s debt to be forgiven and Khartoum allowed to borrow more. Part of the conditions for eligibility was to continue governance reforms, pass a new constitution, tame corruption and open up the economy.

So far, Western powers have not indicated that the door to collaborating with the junta is shut yet and have engaged Khartoum to know how the country will move forward. US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee, this week spoke on phone with Lt-Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the vice president of the Sovereign Council in Sudan, who is also seen as the most powerful man in Sudan today.

On January 5, the Sovereign Council said in a statement that Mr Dagalo provided the US official with “a detailed explanation of the political situation in the country” and expressed his hope that the US would continue its efforts to assist Sudan in the democratic transition process. “The way out of the political crisis in the country is initiating a comprehensive dialogue that leads to a national consensus that includes all Sudanese,” Mr Dagalo said.

The statement quoted the Assistant Secretary of State affirming her country's keenness to co-operate and co-ordinate with the government of Sudan, in order to make the transitional phase successful and achieve democratic transformation, and its support for a dialogue between the Sudanese parties to overcome the current crisis.

But Samantha Power, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development said Washington was keen on supporting ordinary people.

“Our support remains firmly with the Sudanese people and their demand for an end to military rule. We stand with those risking everything to secure a democratic Sudan,” she tweeted.

“We condemn unequivocally the Sudanese security forces' violent repression. These desperate efforts to suppress the will of the Sudanese people will not succeed, and Sudanese exercising their freedom of expression and right to peaceful protest must be protected from further harm.”

Junta leader Al-Burhan is already seeking to mend fences with the US. On Tuesday, he met with the US Chargé d'Affaires to Khartoum, Brian Shawkan. Al-Burhan stressed the need to continue dialogue between all Sudanese parties to come up with a national consensus program to manage the transitional period, saying that the doors of dialogue will remain open with all political forces and the youth of the revolution, the Sudanese News Agency reported.

Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the chairman of the Transitional Sovereign Council, had on the 66th anniversary of Sudan’s Independence dwelt on the ability of the junta to resolve the crisis in spite of what he called enormous pressure from outside.

Al-Burhan had promised to hand over power at the end of the transitional period on January 1, 2022. So the question is whether the junta is a credible institution, having refused to hand over leadership of the Council to a civilian as agreed last November.

But Al-Burhan’s speech, just a day before Hamdok quit, ignored the fact that many of the young people in Sudan have lost trust in the military and are demanding change now, not later. The absence of a prime minister and a government, means no bridge for the military to co-operate with civilians which in turn means either a continual stalemate or to have a prime minister imposed on the country by the military.