Sudan’s prime minister announced on Friday a road map to defuse tension between his civilian-led government and its military partners and gave a warning that a “worst and most dangerous” crisis was threatening the country’s transition to democratic rule.
Addressing the nation in televised comments, a sombre Abdalla Hamdok also offered the military an olive branch, saying his government respected it and appreciated its role in protecting the nation and the people.
“We don’t hold the military responsible for coup attempts or the fantasies of adventurers,” he said.
However, he added: “Our message to all parties of the transitional period is that nations are never built by personal frictions or casual reflexes.”
There was no immediate response from the military to the prime minister’s comments.
The continuing quarrel between Sudan’s military on one hand and the government and its pro-democracy backers on the other highlighted the fragility of the transition to democratic rule, when they engaged in a public and bitter war of words after a failed military coup last month, with each side blaming the other for the country’s many woes.
“You have been following the latest developments in the country and the acute political crisis that we live in now. I will not be exaggerating if I say that it’s the worst and most dangerous crisis that threatens not only the transition, but the entire country,” said Mr Hamdok, Sudan’s first prime minister after the ouster in April 2019 of dictator Omar Al Bashir.
He said that instead of serving as a warning of the perils surrounding the transition, the September 21 coup attempt has brought to the open the differences between his government and the military.
“We have come very close to placing in jeopardy the fate of our country, people and our revolution,” said the prime minister, a career UN economist who took office in August 2019.
Differences with the military, he said, were rooted in the failure by both sides to agree on a “national discourse” that would realise the objectives of the “December revolution,” a reference to the start in 2018 of street protests against Al Bashir’s rule that later led to his removal by the military.
Outlining his exit plan from the continuing crisis, the prime minister called for the immediate halt of any escalation between all parties. A “responsible and serious” dialogue was the only way out of the current crisis, he counselled. No unilateral actions should be taken and state institutions must not be used in any political conflict, he said.
He said he would personally supervise the implementation of his blueprint.
“Our country cannot endure more conflicts and it’s the duty of all of us to work for the realisation of the goals of the December revolution without delay,” he said.
The conflict between civilian politicians and the military now is in many ways a continuation of their competition for power that has defined Sudan’s political landscape for decades.
In the 65 years since independence, army generals have ruled for more than 50 years, toppling democratically elected but dysfunctional governments but often failing to deliver on what they promise, from ending civil wars and improving the woeful economy to redressing ethnic and regional inequalities.
Of the nearly two dozen coups and coup attempts over the past six decades, three led to lengthy stints of military rule. Those were in 1958 (six years), 1969 (16 years) and 1989 (29 years). On the other hand, pro-democracy uprisings ended military rule in 1964, 1985 and lastly in 2019.