Sudan's ousted PM Abdalla Hamdok agrees to conditional return

Sudanese politicians and businessmen close to the military and Mr Hamdok are leading the mediation

Sudan's Abdalla Hamdok has agreed to a conditional return as the head of a new government, a senior adviser to the ousted prime minister told The National.

Mr Hamdok's return is dependent on terms set by him, including the release of all political detainees and the reinstatement of the constitutional declaration, the adviser said.

Those detained include Khaled Omar Youssef, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Hashim Hasab Al Rasol, Communications Minister and Mr Hamdok's media adviser Faisal Mohamed Saleh.

Mr Hamdok's potential return comes as protests in several cities in Sudan have continued for more than a week and a civil disobedience campaign gains momentum.

Protesters in the capital Khartoum have flatly rejected any power-sharing agreement with the military.

"The army stabbed us in the back. We will protest against Hamdok himself if he shakes hands again with the generals," Mai Hassan, 49, a protester, told The National.

"There's a huge gap now between the 44 million Sudanese, who are completely against any military representation in the new government. We gave them a chance and will never be fooled again. The more they push us into accepting such deals, the more unstable the country and the region become."

On October 25, army head Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency.

A deadly crackdown on the mass rallies in the capital, Khartoum, ensued and at least 12 people have been killed.

The takeover has sparked a chorus of international condemnation and punitive aid cuts, with world powers demanding a swift return to civilian rule.

Mr Hamdok has asked for the Forces of Freedom and Change to be involved in any negotiations, the adviser said.

The FFC is an alliance of political parties and representatives of armed militias in Darfur and other regions, which led the protests in 2019 against long-time dictator Omar Al Bashir.

In September, the group divided in two, with the splinter group supporting the military.

The breakaway group also accused other parties within the alliance of having antagonised the army.

The power-sharing negotiations have been fraught with problems from the start.

A day after Gen Al Burhan removed Mr Hamdok from office, the military head said he agreed with several of the ousted prime minister's initiatives but ultimately removed him because he was unable to work freely.

The general's main criticism was reserved for the FFC.

He claimed that the takeover was necessary to prevent a civil war, citing what he said were growing divisions among political groups.

Still under house arrest

Mr Hamdok is under arrest in his house in the suburb of Kafouri in northern Khartoum, and has not been allowed to speak to the media.

Over the past week, there have been several initiatives and mediation efforts by Sudanese politicians and industry leaders, the country's neighbours and the UN.

"The talks are being led by politicians from both factions of the FCC, a delegation of businessmen led by Foad Ahmed Mekki Abdi and Anees Hajjar," Mr Hamdok's adviser said. "There's also an initiative from Al Mahjoub Mohamed Saleh," the adviser said, referring to a veteran journalist.

Gen Mohamed Dagolo, the deputy head of the ruling military council, visited Mr Hamdok on Monday, the adviser said.

The escalating crisis comes as Sudan grapples with several national security problems.

It has a border dispute with its eastern neighbour Ethiopia, which is also building a dam on the Nile that has sparked a regional diplomatic stand-off.

The UN special envoy for Sudan said on Monday that Sudanese and international mediation efforts were expected to bear fruit in coming days.

US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffery Feltman said on Tuesday that Gen Al Burhan should allow Mr Hamdok and his Cabinet to resume their work and release government officials and politicians detained in connection with the takeover.

Mr Feltman said the coup “hijacked and betrayed the aspiration of the Sudanese people in a peaceful democratic country”, more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of Al Bashir.

Updated: November 3rd 2021, 1:38 PM
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