The newly re-elected Sudanese Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok has vowed to set up a “technocratic government” made up of qualified professionals who will lead the country on a path to democracy almost a month after a military coup.
In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Hamdok – who was ousted by the military on October 25, but was reappointed as interim prime minister after to sign an agreement On Sunday with Sudan’s top general to restore the transition to civilian rule – said the new government would be independent.
Hamdok said the cabinet that is currently being formed will focus on establishing a constitutional conference and holding elections by June 2023, to complete “the transition to democracy and its related obligations”.
“You all know that [holding] the elections will require at least one full year, and it could last for a year and a half, ”he said hours after signing the political agreement with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
Hamdok was under house arrest by the military for weeks. The military has also dissolved its cabinet and arrested a number of civilians who have held top positions under a power-sharing deal agreed after the popular overthrow of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
The 14-point agreement between Hamdok and the military, signed at the Khartoum presidential palace on Sunday, also provides for the release of all political prisoners detained during the coup and stipulates that a 2019 constitutional declaration provides the basis for is a political transition, according to details read out on state television.
The coup drew international criticism. Sudanese people have taken to the streets en masse since the military takeover, which changed the country’s fragile transition to democracy.
At least 41 people were killed during confrontations with the police since the coup, as security forces sometimes used live rounds to disperse protesters against coup.
Hamdok undertook to launch an independent investigation into the killings and offenses, saying the agreement was signed to “avoid further bloodshed”.
Hamdok told Al Jazeera the agreement ensured that the prime minister had the “power and authority” to form an independent and technocratic government in “absolute freedom and without any pressure”.
However, it remains unclear how much power the coming government will hold.
The appointment of cabinet ministers must be approved by the sovereign council, which is headed by al-Burhan.
Pro-democracy activists rejected Sunday’s agreement and vowed to intensify anti-military rallies. They also rejected any form of negotiation or partnership with the military.
The Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) civilian coalition, which shared power with the military, said they did not recognize any agreement with the armed forces.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) also rejected the political agreement on Sunday.
Although many disagree with the development, Hamdok said he signed the agreement as he is driven by the “responsibilities” placed on his shoulders.
“I have decided and signed this political agreement, although I know that many people may disagree, object or reject it simply because the people’s ambitions and aspirations were much higher,” he said.
The former UN economist said he had no “personal ambitions” to remain a leading figure after the transition period, and had no interest in joining a particular party or group.
“I repeat that I have no personal benefits, otherwise I would not have accepted the office with all its challenges over the past two years in the first place,” Hamdok said.
Cameron Hudson, former chief of staff of the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, said protests could now be held against both the military and Hamdok after the agreement.
The agreement was a “major compromise on the part of the prime minister,” Hudson told Al Jazeera, as it essentially confirms what was called “bad behavior” by this coup.
“Protesters have every right to worry about what message it is sending to the country and to the prospects of the democratic transition,” he added.
Meanwhile, several countries have welcomed the agreement.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his country was “encouraged” by the agreement, but warned authorities to use excessive force to stop protests.
“I am encouraged by reports that talks in Khartoum will lead to the release of all political prisoners, the reinstatement of Prime Minister Hamdok, the lifting of the state of emergency and the resumption of coordination,” Blinken wrote on Twitter.
“I also reiterate our call on security forces to refrain from excessive violence against peaceful protesters,” he said.