Hamdok resignation rumours met with apathy in Sudan

People once calling for prime minister's release view him less favourably since he struck a deal with the military

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Activists, politicians and protesters in Sudan say they are apathetic towards rumours that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is preparing to resign only a month after returning to power in a deal with the military.

The country's fragmented political scene of opposition parties and protest groups has become united in its mistrust of the country's top civilian leader.

The prime minister, they say, has changed since he agreed to a power-sharing deal with Sudan's generals, becoming, in their eyes, little more than a way for the military to appease the international community.

Mujtaba Musa, a political activist with more than 178,000 Twitter followers, was once among hundreds of thousands calling for Mr Hamdok’s release after he was detained by the country’s de facto leader Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan when the military took power on October 25.

Less than a month later, the prime minister held a press conference announcing he had struck a deal with the military to “end the bloodshed” on Sudan’s streets following weeks of deadly protests.

Sudan’s opposition medical committee estimates that at least 45 people were killed by armed security forces during anti-government demonstrations, even after the November 21 agreement.

Mr Musa described the atmosphere on the day the power-sharing deal was announced.

“We were about 300 or 400 metres away from the presidential palace in a mass demonstration. I saw tears on people's faces after we heard the announcement,” he told The National.

“We felt betrayed.”

Now, Mr Musa says he feels indifferent towards a potential resignation by the once-popular prime minister.

A different man

Deputy head of the moderate centrist Ummah National Party, Mohammad Abdullah, simply said: “There is a recognised distinction between who Hamdok was before and after the deal.”

The November 21 agreement has been rejected by opposition groups under the slogan: “No talks, no reconciliation and no partnership [with the military leadership]."

More than a month after his reinstatement, Mr Hamdok has yet to make good on promises to form a government and stop the lethal crackdown on protesters as demonstrations continue for an eighth week.

Women chant slogans protesting sexual violence days after the UN human rights office called for an independent investigation into allegations of sexual violence during anti-coup protests in Sudan this week. AP

Mr Abdullah's view is that Mr Hamdok, who was nominated by the civilian Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition after the fall of long-time dictator Omar Al Bashir in 2019, is beholden to those behind the October 25 military takeover.

“Right now, he is party-less,” Mr Abdullah said.

Online circles have called Mr Hamdok a “secretary” for Gen Al Burhan.

Real change

Disillusioned with the lack of accountability by political parties like the Ummah National Party, 27-year-old Yousif Dafallah said ordinary civilians, like himself, have the power to spark real change.

“Political parties like the FFC, which once led these movements, now need to catch up with the situation on the ground,” he said, speaking to The National from Khartoum.

On Wednesday, Dr Dafallah was part of an open discussion on Twitter with political party leaders and activists about the role of Sudan's political opposition groups.

“My conversations with them showed that they still hold outdated beliefs and are unwilling to create a revolution within themselves to remove nepotism and inefficient leadership.”

Still, he says, there is room for growth.

“The streets of Sudan are very forgiving. We admitted our mistake of glorifying Hamdok. Organised political parties need to do the same if they ever plan on becoming real partners in this process towards a civilian government,” he said.

After listening to Wednesday's discussions on Twitter and speaking to a number of Sudanese people from a across the political spectrum, it became clear that the will to engage in meaningful political discourse is alive and well, regardless of who the prime minister is.

Updated: December 23, 2021, 4:57 PM
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