Tensions in Sudan escalate

Differences between the military and the political sector are far from disappearing and instability continues to increase
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REUTERS/MOHAMED NURELDIN  -   Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok

The coup d'état that ended the democratic hopes of the Sudanese people continues to leave terrible after-effects. Even after reaching an agreement with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, the situation is far from over. In fact, the agreement between the military and the prime minister, which was intended to continue with "the procedures of the constitutional, legal and political consensus governing the transitional period", may have been ruined by "the lack of consensus between the parties", according to local sources in the Al-Sharq media.

They point to a possible resignation of Hamdok, who "intended to work to reach an agreement", but it seems that the military forces have not done much to help. However, the prime minister's resignation is not yet a foregone conclusion, as there is no certainty that it will take place, despite the obstacles put in the way by the arm led by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan. What this possible resignation does do is increase tension on the streets of Sudan, which have been protesting for months against the military uprising and calling for a civilian democratic transition.

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REUTERS/MOHAMED NURELDIN - Protest against military rule after last month's coup in Khartoum, Sudan December 19, 2021

What is worrying is the stalemate that has gripped the country since the coup. While progress towards democracy was not as rapid as might have been expected when dictator Omar al-Bashir was overthrown, there was a roadmap and a will for change. Now, there is nothing more than a group of military men at the helm of a country that takes to the streets every day to demand a return to the democratic path. And it is precisely this difference between the people and those currently in power that makes progress impossible, especially when there is no way to reach an agreement with the prime minister.

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REUTERS/MOHAMED NURELDIN - People march towards the presidential palace, protesting against military rule after last month's coup in Khartoum, Sudan December 19, 2021

Alaa El-Din Mahmoud, a journalist and political analyst, told Al-Sharq that "alliances that seek a kind of partnership with the military will not lead to something new, but will only lead to the reproduction of the problem that the state has been suffering from". What Sudan demands is to "change the composition of the old state, and create a new state based on freedom and justice", something that, as Mahmoud explains, is currently impossible since the military wing decided to do away with everything that had been built in the last two years.

Another expert, analyst Khaled Al-Tijani Al-Nur, told the same media outlet that the only solution for the country is "to go to elections, because, although these elections are not ideal, they will produce a kind of mandate, until a new civilian system is installed". And that was the intention until the military staged the coup at the end of October that is now blocking the country. Indeed, it was hoped that the agreement reached between Prime Minister Hamdok and Al-Burhan would bring the situation back on track, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Abdalla Hamdok was accused of legitimising the coup by allowing a military component to participate in the transition period.

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PHOTO/AFP - An injured Sudanese protester falls to the pavement after security forces fired tear gas during a rally to mark three years since the start of mass demonstrations that led to the ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir, in the capital Khartoum on December 19, 2021.

The Forces for Freedom and Change (FCC), led by Minni Minnawi, distanced itself from the draft and the Hamdok-Al-Burhan agreement precisely for this reason. The prime minister's return to office amidst criticism is another aspect that, according to Al-Nur, robs him of "popular legitimacy". He believes that "even if Hamdok succeeds in forming a new government, he will not be able to stop the ferment in the street linked to a certain idea, which is comprehensive change". Hence, the problem for Sudan looks increasingly complex.

On the one hand, Prime Minister Hamdok represents the democratic will of the people, and the possibility of his resignation would be a huge step backwards in that process, which the Sudanese people still hope to resume. On the other hand, the controversy surrounding his figure does not invite optimism from the moment he decided to "accept" the military wing's coup d'état, despite the fact that he was even kidnapped during the uprising. Far from being resolved, tension seems to be increasing with no sign of recovery and uncertainty is flooding the streets of a country that is going through one of its worst moments since the end of a 30-year dictatorship.