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Dichotomy in Sudan

While the military has been calling the shots, the people are generally against the GHQ in Khartoum, led by General Burhan. Small wonder that the reinstatemt of Hamdok has alienated the populace further still. This is the dichotomy that Sudan will have to contend with for some time yet.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

After the ouster of Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdallah Hamdok in a coup on 25 October this year, his reinstatement on Sunday would on the face of it suggest that the country is inching towards normality. Far from it. Though all political detainees are to be released, the announcement has been greeted with spirited anti-government demonstrations throughout the capital, Khartoum.

The military’s deal with Hamdok envisages that he will helm a civilian government of technocrats during the period of transition. Yet another bout of instability cannot be ruled out not the least because pro-democracy opposition groups have demanded full civilian rule ever since the autocrat, Omar al-Bashir, was ousted in 2019. Ergo, the instability has been persistent for more than two years “Hamdok has sold the revolution,” the protesters chanted after the deal was announced. “He has disappointed us. Our only option is the street,” one of them cried.

While the military has been calling the shots, the people are generally against the GHQ in Khartoum, led by General Burhan. Small wonder that the reinstatemt of Hamdok has alienated the populace further still. This is the dichotomy that Sudan will have to contend with for some time yet.

It bears recall that the October coup had ignited mass demonstrations against the military and the medical fraternity had aligned with the protest movement. It is a measure of the raging instability that the security forces have killed as many as 40 civilians in increasingly violent crackdowns. In Hamdok’s reckoning, he agreed to the deal to prevent more casualties.

“Sudanese blood is precious. Let us stop the bloodshed and direct the energy of youth towards development and nation-building,” he said at a signing ceremony broadcast on state television. That ceremony, as it turns out, has created more problems than it has resolved. According to Burhan, the deal would be inclusive… arguably as promised by the hardliners in Afghanistan. “We do not want to exclude anyone except, as we have agreed, the National People’s Party,” in an oblique reference to Omar al-Bashir’s party.

However, the agreement made no mention of the forces of Freedom and Change, indeed the civilian coalition that shared power with the military before the coup. Arguably, the military’s decision to reinstate Hamdok is an attempt to lessen the pressure that the GHQ has come under due to the relentless mass protests ever since last month’s coup.

The degree of power that the government in Khartoum, which remains under military oversight, will actually wield is far from clear. Critics have contended that the military move is designed to pacify the public while, at the same time, not having to face accountability for the coup and its violent aftermath. The army faces an intricate situation.

Having spearheaded the coup, it has within a month reinstated the former Prime Minister. In the net, the people have in general may have been alienated.