Sudan Coup Leader Wants Ousted PM to Keep Job in New Government
Sudan’s coup leader is trying to persuade ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to reassume his role on the condition the army choses a new cabinet, according to people familiar with the matter.
The country’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, sees Hamdok’s involvement as key to building international credibility for the new administration, said the people, who asked not to be identified as they weren’t authorized to talk to the media.
Global condemnation of the toppling this week of the joint civilian-military government was swift, with the U.S. President Joe Biden echoing demands by the United Nations and others for the restoration of Hamdok’s administration. The U.S. and the World Bank have frozen aid while the African Union has suspended Sudan’s membership. All of which likely prompted al-Burhan to seek the support of the man he ousted.
The coup has thrown into chaos Sudan’s hopes for a democratic transition after the 2019 ouster of dictator Omar al-Bashir, who made the North African country an international pariah during his three decades in power. It has sparked widespread protests and at least 12 deaths in a crackdown.
Hamdok, a former United Nations economist who was detained before returning home late Tuesday, has told visiting ambassadors he’s determined to continue as premier and is rejecting the proposal, according to the people.
Hamdok remains under a form of house arrest and access has been tightly controlled. His office has issued statements decrying the coup and some of his staff have been detained.
Army officials didn’t respond to requests for comment. Russia’s state-owned Sputnik news agency on Friday cited al-Burhan as saying Sudan will have a technocrat as new prime minister “within a week,” although he has no list of candidates yet.
The overtures to Hamdok may suggest the military is facing difficulties in finding civilian representatives for the new administration. While some ex-rebels who split from their civilian allies in government have backed the coup, most political parties have rejected it and no significant figure has spoken in favor.
Hamdok’s likely refusal to join a military-appointed government would dash al-Burhan’s hopes for a credible prime minister, said Jonas Horner, deputy director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crisis Group. The general would like a “pliant” new premier, “but such has been the military’s vast miscalculation that underpinned Monday’s coup, the position is likely to appear something of a poisoned chalice to many.”
Two Western diplomats said that the West’s message to those behind the coup was that Hamdok was still the legitimate prime minister. During the ambassadorial visit on Wednesday, Hamdok appeared in good health.
Al-Burhan is keen on appointing a new chief justice that will enable him to start forming the government, according to people familiar with the plans. Some roles in the administration would be taken by rebels who fought Bashir’s regime for years in the country’s south and Darfur regions, they said.
The insurgents signed peace deals after Bashir’s ouster in 2019 and joined Hamdok’s government this year, before breaking away in October and calling for its dissolution.
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