On November 21, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, along with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the army chief who ousted him and placed him under house arrest in October, appeared during a televised ceremony at Sudan’s presidential palace in Khartoum to sign a new power-sharing agreement.
Shortly afterwards, Hamdok said he had signed the 14-point political agreement that restored him to power.avoid further bloodshed”After dozens of civilians were killed by security forces during protests against the October 25 coup.
But the bloodshed did not end.
Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters continued to take to the streets, denounce the army’s seizure of power and the subsequent agreement with Hamdok, who accused them of “treason” for signing an agreement that ensured the army’s dominance in Sudanese politics.
And late Sunday, just hours after medics said security forces had killed three more protesters, bringing the total death toll since the coup to 57, Hamdok appeared on television again – this time to announces his resignation.
In his speech to the nation, the prime minister said he was “trying his best to stop the country from slipping into disaster”.
“Despite all that has been done to reach a consensus … it did not happen”, he added, referring to “the fragmentation of political forces and conflicts between the [military and civilian] components of the transition ”.
Sudan “crosses a dangerous turning point over what threatens its entire existence”, he warned.
‘Write on the wall’
Hamdok’s retirement did not come as a surprise. For weeks there have been reports that he was about to step down amid disagreements over the name of a new government, with unnamed sources saying last month that he had informed a group of national political and intellectual figures of his impending intention to do so.
According to Kholood Khair, the managing partner of the Khartoum-based Insight Strategy Partners, a think tank focusing on transition policy, “the writing was on the wall for Hamdok – probably since before the coup”.
Although his popularity rose among the public in the immediate aftermath of the army’s coup, his stock fell due to a series of painful economic reforms, Khair said. “Given Hamdok’s tendency to compromise, it was a surprise that he remained in custody all the days after the coup, without consent,” she added.
The agreement that Hamdok “unilaterally” signed with al-Burhan was “very unpopular”, Khair continued, and “which caused his political stock to decline”.
Independent Sudanese analyst Muhammad Osman said his resignation came later than expected.
“The agreement of 21 November did not have public support, apparently in the continuation of the protests against him and his inability to appoint any ministers. This meant that no one wanted to share this agreement with him.
“In their [protesters’] view, all he did was legitimize the coup, ”he added.
“Hamdok was like a fig leaf.”
Ongoing protests, political stalemate
Hamdok, a respected economist with decades of experience working for the United Nations and African organizations, was outside Sudan when a spate of civil protests in April 2019, the year-long ruler Omar al-Bashir, collapsed.
Months later, he was appointed prime minister as part of the civilian government that, along with a joint military-civilian sovereign council, had the task of leading the country to full civilian rule.
As prime minister, the technocrat has been supported by many in the public eye, even as he tackles a range of complex challenges, including a severe economic crisis, shortages of basic commodities and the need to rebuild a near-collapse banking sector.
Sources close to Hamdok have previously said he will only remain in office if he has the political support and if the November 21 agreement is enforced.
But days after his reappointment, 12 cabinet ministers resigned in protest of the agreement. Meanwhile, pro-democracy protesters continued to face bloody repression demanding that the military play no role in the government during the transition to free elections, as well as justice for those killed since the coup and during the mass protests against Al-Bashir.
Osman said that while Hamdok found that he “lacked public and political support, the security forces continued to ‘use mere force against the protests’.
“The reasons he used to justify the November 21 agreement – to avoid bloodshed – therefore fell apart and his resignation became apparent,” he added.
Khair agreed. “Practically, the executive space within which he could work was very limited [the November 21] agreement, which ironically ensured his freedom, ”she said.
“The political parties calculated that it would make sense to hold back the streets rather than the prime minister before an election, which would leave him isolated and unable to form a government. “After that, it was only a matter of time before his frustrations came to an end,” she said.
She added that Hamdok’s resignation “raises the facade not only over the sham treaty of November 21, but essentially over the past two years, which shows that there was never a will to commit to true transition”.
She added, “Hamdok was never the cornerstone of the pro-democracy movement and if anything, his departure will further unite the civic bloc.”