Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

First he was appointed, then arrested, and then reinstated. Now, barely six weeks after coming out of house arrest to be re-appointed as Sudan’s prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok has resigned, leaving the country’s generals with a constitutional crisis.

For Muzan Alneel, a participant in the role mass street protests which shook the Northeast African country of 44 million people for years, Hamdok’s resignation on Sunday night was inevitable.

“He began to be called the ‘secretary of state’,” she said, referring to Hamdok’s alleged role as a civilian “fig leaf” for a military dictatorship that consistently demonstrated its willingness to fire its guns. to direct the people.

At least 56 civilians have been killed and hundreds injured by security forces since October 25, when the army ousted Hamdok in what was effectively its second coup in three years and the 17th since Sudan became independent in 1956.

In April 2019, after months of mass demonstrations, the military took action against longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir, who has run a repressive state for 30 years. The generals, led by Abdel Fattah Burhan, then embarked on a supposed transition to what they said would be democratic elections.

“This makes the situation clearer because it puts the army and civilians in direct confrontation,” said Amjed Farid, a former assistant chief of staff at Hamdok, referring to the prime minister’s televised resignation on Sunday. “The army has now pushed all the civilians out of government.”

The country, Farid said, would become ungovernable if the generals did not chart a clear path to civilian rule. “The Sudanese people took to the streets almost daily against the coup. There is no room for stability or any way of governing the country. ”

Mass protests in Khartoum
Mass protests erupted in Sudan after the army ousted Hamdok in October in what was effectively its second coup in three years © Marwan Ali / AP

Protesters have stated they are reluctant to accept the domination of a military establishment that is considered brutal, corrupt and dishonest in its stated goal of returning to the barracks. Civilians willing to work with the military, including the once popular Hamdok, have faced increasing vocal criticism.

“We demand that the military completely remove themselves from the political arena,” Alneel said.

Elections were scheduled for 2023, but there is skepticism about whether the generals would run the risk of relinquishing power, opening themselves up to possible prosecution for past human rights abuses and allegedly corrupt business practices. It is unclear whether the generals intend to appoint a new prime minister to replace Hamdok, something that experts say would be illegal under the transitional constitution.

Many Sudanese hope that international pressure, and continued protests, will persuade the generals to negotiate their own exit. The World Bank stopped disbursement of $ 2 billion in potential payments following the October coup, which jeopardizes progress toward debt relief on Sudan’s $ 60 billion of international arrears.

David Malpass, president of the World Bank, said he feared the coup and the subsequent disintegration of relations with international donors could have a “dramatic impact. . . on the country’s social and economic recovery ”.

It was hoped that Hamdok, a British-trained economist first appointed Prime Minister four months after the 2019 coup that Bashir removed could send a hybrid military-civilian government to democracy.

Although he has recorded some successes, such as removing Sudan from the US list of sponsors of terrorism, Hamdok has struggled to bridge the gap between popular expectations and the reality of an isolated, almost bankrupt economy.

Now that he is gone, and with him any veneer of civic honor, Farid said, the generals stand in the face of the people. “The blood that has been shed since October 25 must stop flowing. If not, the army will fight against the entire Sudanese population. “

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