Thousands protest in Sudan against deal between PM Hamdok and military

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KHARTOUM: Tens of thousands of Sudanese protested in the streets of Khartoum and other cities on Thursday (Nov 25), keeping up the pressure on military leaders after they struck a deal to bring back a civilian prime minister deposed in a coup one month ago.

Prominent political parties and Sudan’s powerful protest movement have opposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s decision on Sunday to sign the accord with the military, with some calling it a betrayal or saying it provides political cover for the takeover.

“The revolution is the people’s revolution. The army back to the barracks!” chanted protesters in Al Daim, a working class district of Khartoum. They called for justice for “martyrs” killed in earlier demonstrations.

Protesters also closed a main road in the Sahafa neighbourhood of the capital. Carrying Sudanese flags, they chanted “Burhan you won’t rule. Down with military rule,” referring to Sudan’s military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Live streams on social media also showed protests in cities including Port Sudan, Kassala, Wad Madani, and El Geneina in West Darfur.

Separately, the United Nations said reports indicated at least 43 people had been killed in intercommunal violence in Jebel Moon in West Darfur since Nov 17, with 46 villages burned and looted.

“We are also alarmed at reports of rape committed against women and girls as well as reports of 20 children missing,” the UN mission to Sudan said, calling on the government and armed groups that signed a peace deal last year to protect civilians.

CONCESSION

Last month’s coup raised questions over the future of the deal and efforts to end decades of internal conflict in Sudan.

The civilian Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition that had been sharing power with the military before the takeover blamed the military in a statement on Thursday for allowing a worsening of the security situation in Darfur.

While Hamdok’s reinstatement was a concession by military leader Burhan, key political parties and civilian groups say the army should play no role in politics.

University student Osama Ahmed said he was protesting because he believed Burhan wanted to bring down the revolution and prevent the creation of a civilian state.

Under Sunday’s deal, Hamdok will lead a government of technocrats during a political transition expected to last until 2023 and will share power with the military.

It is meant to be based on an earlier deal struck between the military and civilian political forces following the 2019 overthrow of Omar al-Bashir, when they had agreed to share power until elections. The coup scuppered that partnership, and the military had worked since then to strengthen its position by making appointments and transferring staff in senior state jobs.

On Thursday the cabinet secretariat issued a decision cancelling all staff transfers in government since Oct 25 and reserving the cabinet’s right to make future transfers.

The FFC and its former ministers have rejected the agreement struck by Hamdok, citing a violent crackdown on anti-military protests over the past month. Hamdok has said the Sudanese authorities are committed to democracy and free expression.

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