Abdallah Hamdok, Prime Minister of Sudan’s fragile transition to civilian power, which was overthrown in a coup in October and re-established a month later, thank you on Sunday.
His resignation comes amid growing violence – at least 57 protesters have been killed and hundreds wounded since the coup, according to medics – and accusations of “betrayal”.
Hamdok had returned to the government on November 21 in terms of an agreement signed with military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan after weeks of house arrest, during which Sudan was rocked by mass protests against the actions of the army.
But pro-democracy protesters rejected the agreement and tens of thousands took to the streets to denounce the army’s tougher grip on power.
In his televised resignation on Sunday, Hamdok said: “I have tried my best to prevent the country from slipping into disaster” and quoted “fragmentation of political forces and conflicts between the [military and civilian] components of the transition ”.
“Despite everything that has been done to reach a consensus … it did not happen.”
So who is Abdalla Hamdok?
Hamdok, who was born in south-central Kordofan province in 1956, has more than 30 years of experience as an economist and senior policy analyst specializing in development across Africa.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Khartoum and a doctorate in economics from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.
From 1981 to 1987, he was a senior official at Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, before taking on a number of leadership roles at institutions, including the African Development Bank and the International Labor Organization.
He most recently served as Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, a position he has held since November 2011.
Hamdok was outside Sudan and not directly involved in the protest movement, but the appointment of the technocrat was applauded by many of the population and international community.
Its challenges were great: political unrest and economic crisis, shortages of basic commodities and the need to rebuild a banking sector on the verge of collapse.
Hamdok drew his experience in several African peacebuilding initiatives when Sudan signed an agreement with rebel groups in October 2020 to end unrest in Sudan’s Darfur, Kordofan and Blue Nile regions.
In his inauguration, he said his priorities included resolving the economic crisis, addressing the public debt burden and achieving peace in a country long broken by civil wars.
He quickly began talks with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to discuss the restructuring of Sudan’s debt.
He also opened talks with the United States to remove Sudan from its list of “terrorists”, a term that has isolated Sudan from the international financial system since 1993. Sudan was removed from the list in 2020.
Under its auspices, the IMF adopted Sudan in the High-Debt Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative based on the country’s commitment to macroeconomic reforms, which put Sudan on the path to easing more than $ 56 billion in debt and access to new funds.
The economic reforms he has promoted include the removal of fuel subsidies – which cost several billion dollars a year – and the devaluation and fluctuation of the currency. He also tried to bring security-owned firms under government control.
‘High cost of reforms’
A few weeks before he was relieved of his post on October 25, he acknowledged the hardships stemming from the reforms, but expressed the hope that their positive impact would soon be felt on the ground.
“The Sudanese people have borne a very high cost of the reforms and we can not take their patience for granted,” he said.
Hamdok repeatedly declared his firm support for Sudan’s transition to civilian rule. As tensions between the military and civilians increased in the power-sharing administration in September, Hamdok presented a roadmap from the crisis.
His position won him support among the population. During rallies against the coup, protesters carried photos of Hamdok and hung banners with him from billboards.
After returning as prime minister under an agreement he signed with al-Burhan, a move opposed by many protesters and political figures who had previously supported him, Hamdok said he had done so to stop bloodshed. after several dozen civilians were killed during protests.
In his televised statement on Sunday, Hamdok said Sudan needed to engage in a new dialogue to agree on a “national charter” and “draw up a roadmap” to complete the transition to civilian rule.
He also warned that the political stalemate could become an existential crisis.
“Our nation is going through a dangerous turning point that could threaten its survival unless urgently rectified,” he said.