Analysis – Sudanese transition needs to be reset after civilian leader’s return returns army to driver’s seat Author Reuters


© Reuters. Protesters march during anti-military rally after last month’s coup in Khartoum, Sudan, December 30, 2021. REUTERS / Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Nafisa Eltahir and Aidan Lewis

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – With the resignation of the Sudanese prime minister, the army is firmly regaining control of the country, but is facing a population that is angry that his hopes for democratic rule have been slowed down again.

If a new course towards transition and credible elections cannot be set, greater instability is likely inside and outside Sudanese borders, analysts and diplomats say.

After his government was dissolved by a coup in October, Abdalla Hamdok returned in an attempt to save a transitional division of power agreement reached between the military and civilians following the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in the 2019 uprising. Autocratic Bashir ruled Sudan for three decades.

Hamdok leaves leaving country cut off from international economic support, shaken frequent anti-war protests and threatened re-violence and displacement in the western region of Darfur .

His transition efforts have failed due to the withdrawal of promised support from some political factions and his inability to stop violence against protesters, said a Sudanese mediator involved in talks before and after Hamdok’s return.

Most of the shattered civilian coalition that agreed to share power on the basis of the 2019 constitutional declaration publicly says it will not negotiate with the military.

“All we have to tell them is to return to your barracks,” said a member of the local resistance committee in Khartoum.

That could leave the military to appoint loyalists to the new administration, building on the nominations of Bashir-era veterans grip-2021-11-11 which he made after the takeover and which Hamdok partially withdrew.

“The military will appoint a government unless civilians gather and meet with them,” the mediator said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I think eventually people will sit together and go back to the constitutional declaration and see how they can adjust it.”

After the coup, the army said it wanted elections in 2023. She says she is committed to the transition to democracy.

But the takeover deepened mistrust in the military among civilian parties, while a protest movement led by resistance committees has always opposed any political role for the military.

Suppression of rallies across the country against a coup that killed nearly 60 people and arrested protesters has sparked outrage. Intelligence has been restored.


Western powers, which still have some leverage over billions of dollars in economic aid halted after the coup, are trying to dissuade the military from independent pressure.

They called for an urgent dialogue on Tuesday, warning they would not support the government without the involvement of a wide range of civilian groups. A one-sided approach risked pushing Sudan back into conflict, they said.

“Soldiers care because they know the country will not continue without economic support,” said one European diplomat. “If Sudan implodes, it has serious consequences in many geostrategic issues,” he said, citing instability in neighboring Ethiopia and Libya.

The United Nations mission in Sudan has offered to facilitate dialogue, although diplomats say it remains unclear how such talks could be shaped and that forces such as Saudi Arabia or the United States may need to intervene.

“I think it is unlikely that an attempt to reset the transition in the mold that existed before will now succeed,” said Ahmed Soliman, a researcher at Chatham House, a London think tank.

“We need a different arrangement, a different political path forward to start re-establishing some measure of confidence.”

Reaching an agreement that paves a new path to democratic elections seems more difficult than 2019, several Western diplomats have said. But the exit of Hamdock, a former consensus-building UN official, could pave the way for a showdown.

“Some saw Hamdock’s stay in office as a fig leaf, and his resignation could allow for more meaningful discussion among the international community, and also push civilian groups to seek a common language,” said Lauren Blanchard, a Sudan expert at the U.S. Congressional Research Service.

“This makes it clear that a mediation mechanism is needed. Hamdock has failed to bridge the gap.”


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