Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok Image Credit: Reuters

After a month of tension, Sudan’s plans for restoring civilian rule are back on track. Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok, who was ousted by the military and put under house arrest on Oct. 25, has been reinstated to lead a new “independent technocratic cabinet”.

General Abdul Fattah Al Burhan, who has led a ‘Sovereign Council’ since deposing former longtime president Omar Al Bashir two years ago, last month dissolved the Hamdok-led government, sparking street protests during which dozens of people were killed in clashes with army and security forces.

The move was also condemned universally and the general was urged by the international community to commit to the transition plan, agreed on with the civilian leaders in July 2019, to transfer the power to a democratically-elected government in two to three years.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Britain issued a strongly-worded statement that called for “the immediate restoration of the civilian-led transitional government,” and the release of dozens of officials and activists arrested by the military after the dissolution of the government.

Civilian leadership and government 

The new deal, signed by General Al Burhan and Prime Minister Hamdok promises to open a new page in the usually uneasy relationship between the two sides — the military and the civilian government. But it was not welcomed by all the Sundanese, some of whom demand a government controlled fully by the civilian leadership without the intervention of the army.

But Hamdok, a British-educated economist, who worked for the United Nations before becoming a prime minister in 2019, appears to take a cautious route to the ultimate goal, the implementation of the transition to democracy plan. And he is right.

“We must put an end to the bloodshed,” Hamdok said after signing the new deal. He realises that the fragile transition to democracy in a country ruled by the military for decades needs to be cemented through the participation of all. Alienating the army would be a mistake at this point. The army, as the Oct. 25 events showed, can easily derail the democratisation plans.

Hamdok, who has won the support of Sudan’s Arab and international allies during last month’s crisis, needs a balanced act to keep all the Sudanese people committed to the transition road map, particularly the military. It is understandable that the popular movements, which led the protest that ousted Al Bashir, would want to see an immediate transfer of power to an elected authority. Practically, that is not possible.

The country needs to draft a constitution that would pave the way to holding a fair and transparent elections. There is also the economic crisis, which needs to be addressed immediately. Therefore, it is imperative that the people and the political parties support Hamdok in his step-by-step approach to realise the aspiration of the Sudanese people.