KHARTOUM: Nearly a month after Sudan’s top general ousted the prime minister, they signed a breakthrough deal on Sunday to reverse the military takeover that had sparked international condemnation and mass protests.
Anger still flared on the streets, however, where thousands rallied again and clashed with police, shouting “No to military power” and demanding that the armed forces fully withdraw from government.
Top General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan appeared at the presidential palace in Khartoum for a televised ceremony with a haggard-looking premier Abdalla Hamdok, who had just been freed from weeks of house arrest.
The 14-point deal they signed officially restores the transition to civilian rule that had been derailed by the October 25 putsch which threw the poverty-stricken northeast African country into renewed turmoil.
Thousands of protesters, however, demand that military fully withdraw from government
The agreement, which comes after crisis talks involving Sudanese and outside players, declared that Burhan’s decision “to relieve the transitional prime minister (of his duties) is cancelled” and that all political detainees be freed.
It relaunched the fragile transition process towards full democracy that started after the 2019 ouster of veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
A frail-looking Hamdok praised the virtues of the people power “revolution” that brought him to government and declared the key priority was to “stop the bloodshed in Sudan before anything else”.
Burhan thanked Hamdok for his services and vowed that “free and transparent elections” would be held as part of the transitional process.
“He was patient with us until we reached this moment,” Burhan said before posing for photos with the reinstated premier and his own deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
The United Nations welcomed the deal but also stressed the “need to protect the constitutional order to safeguard the basic freedoms of political action, freedom of speech and peaceful assembly”.
Outside the palace, and in other cities, thousands again rallied, met in the capital by security forces who fired teargas — the latest in a series of protests that, medics say, have claimed 40 lives.
Police deny firing live ammunition and insist they have used “minimum force” to disperse the protests. They have recorded only one death among demonstrators, in North Khartoum.
The main civilian bloc which spearheaded the anti-Bashir protests and signed a 2019 power-sharing deal with the military rejected Sunday’s agreement.
“We affirm our clear and previously declared position that there is no negotiation, no partnership, no legitimacy for the coup,” said the mainstream faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change.
Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2021