Sudan protesters to call for military to leave politics


Tens of thousands of protesters are to rally in Khartoum on Thursday to call for the country’s military to leave politics.

Protesters are decrying a deal Sudan’s generals reached with Abdalla Hamdok, the prime minister they toppled in a coup a month ago and who was reinstated this week.

Thursday’s rallies will gauge the level of opposition to the deal announced on Sunday as well as support for Mr Hamdok, who has, in the eyes of Sudan’s powerful pro-democracy groups, morphed overnight from a popular hero to the man who betrayed the 2018-19 revolution that toppled autocratic ruler Omar Al Bashir.

Mr Hamdok maintains he agreed to return as prime minister to resume the country’s democratic transition derailed by the coup and stop the spilling of blood of Sudan’s youths. At least 41 protesters have been killed since the October 25 coup and hundreds injured.

He also said he wanted to protect the economic gains made by the reforms he introduced since he took office in 2019.

His reinstatement after nearly a month under house arrest, however, has raised questions on the extent of authority he will now wield and whether he would be beholden to the military, led by top general and coup leader Abdel Fattah Al Burhan.

Significantly, Mr Hamdok has lost the support of the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), a loose pro-democracy alliance that played a key part in the anti-Al Bashir uprising before it went on to become the prime minister’s power base and political patron.

He has also lost the support of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, another coalition formed during the uprising, as well as the neighborhood resistance committees, the grassroots movement that mobilised rallies during the uprising and in the weeks that followed the October 25 coup.

The resistance committees have called for Thursday’s rallies, which they said would also commemorate the “martyrdom” of 15 protesters on Wednesday, November 15.

“What we have right now is not a recipe for stability or the success of the democratic transition success,” said Michael Hanna, the New York-based US programme director at the International Crisis Group.

“There is a lot of disquiet and concern over the trajectory of events, including the loss of civilian support for the government, the rejection of the deal on the streets and Hamdok’s own credibility. The military has burned Hamdok, who has been made to look like the cover of military control.”

The deal struck on Sunday provides for the release of all political detainees rounded up since the coup, but says nothing about the nationwide state of emergency announced by Gen Al Burhan on October 25. It also makes no mention of the parts of the power-sharing agreement reached in 2019 between the military and the FFC, which was repealed by Gen Al Burhan.

Mr Hamdok has been seeking to discredit speculation that the military, not him, would be dictating policy now. His office says he had instructed security agencies and the police to protect protesters on Thursday. It also says he has instructed the relevant authorities to free political detainees who remain in custody and ordered a review of the sackings and hiring in state agencies made by Gen Al Burhan in the four weeks Mr Hamdok was under house arrest.

He also said he was free to appoint a government of independent technocrats.

But his endeavors appear to make little difference to the pro-democracy groups that once provided him with the backing he needed to press ahead with harsh economic reforms.

“The Burhan-Hamdok deal means the acceptance of the military as guardians of the political process; and that is a serious setback,” the professionals’ association said.

“The military now can at any time of their choice decide that the political process is not going well and they upend it again. Our immediate objective now is to end the military’s patronage of the political process through peaceful protests.”

But analysts believe the campaign against Mr Hamdok could prove short-lived and the international community, along with opposition on the streets in Sudan, would eventually force the military to roll back all they had done in the four weeks up until the prime minister’s reinstatement.

Already, the US is saying more must be done to put Sudan’s democratic transition back on track and is putting off the resumption of millions of dollars’ worth of aid it suspended in response to the coup.

“If the streets continue to simmer as they do now, the changes made by the military will be dismantled one by one,” said Moussa Gouda, a Sudanese political analyst. “The international community, for its part, will force the military to restore the conditions on the eve of the coup.”

As for Mr Hamdok, the career as a UN economist could, with time, regain his popular hero status, said Rashed Mohammed Ali, a political science lecturer at Khartoum’s Bahri University.

“Hamdok remains a symbol of the revolution no matter how scathing the criticism he has been subjected to,” he said.

Updated: November 25th 2021, 9:13 AM

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Source link : https://www.thenationalnews.com/mena/2021/11/25/sudan-protesters-to-call-for-military-to-leave-politics/

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Publish date : 2021-11-25 09:14:00

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