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Sudan PM’s decision to resign throws country further into the abyss

“Nothing was settled in Sudanese politics, and so this just adds to the uncertainty that already existed,” a former US official told Al Arabiya English.

Published: Updated:

Sudan’s recently reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok decided to step down from his post over the weekend, throwing the country into further uncertainty after the military overthrew his government in October.

Analysts and US officials continue to look on with growing despair and concern.

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Hamdok reportedly voiced his intention to resign during a meeting late last month, where efforts were unsuccessful in convincing him to hold off on the decision.

Despite striking a deal with the top military general, weeks after his government was overthrown and he and members of the cabinet were placed under house arrest, pro-democracy Sudanese protesters continued to take to the streets.

Protests initially started in 2019 as thousands of protesters prompted the overthrow of Sudan’s longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir.

Hamdok was then appointed to lead during the transitional period. After the October removal of his government, a new deal was struck in November between him and Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

As part of the deal, a new Sovereign Council was appointed by the military and the previous arrangement to allow the civilian leadership to lead until elections in 2023 was ended.

Sudanese demonstrators rally to mark three years since the start of mass demonstrations that led to the ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir, Dec. 19, 2021. (AFP)
Sudanese demonstrators rally to mark three years since the start of mass demonstrations that led to the ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir, Dec. 19, 2021. (AFP)

Hamdok agreed and signed the new agreement with the Sudanese military, a move welcomed by the international community.

But the protesters have rejected the deal and continued to march defiantly.

Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center and a former US official, said Hamdok’s decision raised more questions than it answered.

“Nothing was settled in Sudanese politics, and so this just adds to the uncertainty that already existed,” he told Al Arabiya English.

Hudson admitted it remains to be seen if the military will look to appoint a “fully compliant PM” and further set back the democratic transition. But the military could also aim to bridge the divide and bring in someone to reset the transition.

“The decision will be critical in determining whether the suspended assistance and engagement gets turned back on or whether Sudan winds up slipping back towards authoritarianism and economic collapse,” Hudson detailed.

The US called on Sudan's leaders to “set aside differences, find consensus and ensure continued civilian rule.”

Noticeably quick to move on from Hamdok, a US statement on the matter said: “Sudan’s next PM and cabinet should be appointed in line with the constitutional declaration to meet the people’s goals of freedom, peace, and justice,” and that “violence against protesters must cease.”

The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called on Sudan’s military to “get out of the way and let civilians fulfill their peaceful democratic ambitions,” after protests last month.

President Joe Biden has doubled down on US diplomatic efforts in Africa, specifically appointing veteran diplomat Jeffrey Feltman as the special envoy for the Horn of Africa.

Coupled with the ongoing violence in Ethiopia, Sudan has not seen any positive breakthroughs since these increased US mediation efforts.

Shortly after the military overthrew Hamdok in October, Feltman blasted Burhan for “hijacking” and betraying the Sudanese people.

Read more: Sudan’s deal a clean slate for Hamdok but lost opportunity for real change: Analysts

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