Sudan's resistance committees call for anti-deal rallies

Pro-democracy movements have rejected the agreement, calling it an attempt to legitimise the October 25 coup

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Sudan’s powerful resistance committees called for mass rallies on Thursday to protest against an agreement reached between the military and Abdalla Hamdok, the prime minister, whose government was overthrown last month.

Under the deal announced on Sunday, Mr Hamdok has been reinstated to form a government of independent technocrats that he later said would freely select.

The proposed government would replace one he had led since August 2019 under a power-sharing deal between the military and a pro-democracy alliance. This was preceded by months of street protests against the rule of Omar Al Bashir that forced the generals to dismiss him in April that year.

Sunday’s deal was swiftly rejected as legitimising the October 25 coup by the country’s main pro-democracy movements, including the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), the power base and political patron of Mr Hamdok’s former government.

It was also rejected by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, another powerful coalition that, together with the FFC, engineered the anti-Al Bashir protests in 2018-19. Both groups are demanding that the military leaves politics completely and army chief and coup leader Abdel Fattah Al Burhan and his associates are tried for toppling a legitimate government and derailing Sudan’s democratic transition.

“Whoever once believed in Hamdok, the man is dead. But those who believe in the revolution should know that it does not die,” declared a statement issued by the resistance committees of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

“We in the committees of Khartoum hereby declare that the deal, which was struck does not concern us at all and we are adhering to our position: no negotiations, no partnership and no bargaining,” it said.

“November 25 will be a day of loyalty to the martyrs and to reassert our resolve to bring down the coup leaders, both military and civilians.”

An elderly Sudanese man flashes the victory sign in the capital Khartoum, on November 21, 2021.  AFP

Opposition to the deal between Mr Hamdok and the military underlines the fragility of Sudan’s democratic transition and leaves the prime minister without a power base to back him as he continues his ambitious economic reforms.

It also does not bode well for the stability of Sudan at a time when its economic woes are deep and most of its 40 million people struggling to make ends meet.

Sudan has been rocked by near daily street protests against the coup and the military over the past four weeks. Security forces have killed at least 41 protesters and injured hundreds since October 25, leaving many Sudanese seething over the excessive use of force by the security forces and resentful of the military.

The coup has also drawn strong international condemnations and led to the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of aid to Sudan.

Mr Hamdok, once seen by many as the only legitimate leader in post-Al Bashir Sudan, has been roundly decried for agreeing to the deal he struck with the military, which will continue to oversee the democratic transition.

Thousands of demonstrators have rejected the deal, chanting "No to military power!" and demanding that the armed forces fully withdraw from government. Protesters also tore up posters of Mr Hamdok and dismissed him as a "traitor" to the 2018-19 “revolution” that led to Al Bashir’s removal.

Ironically, protesters in the weeks after the coup lovingly hoisted posters of Mr Hamdok, who had been under house arrest until Sunday.

Updated: November 23, 2021, 8:41 AM