Transition troubles: On Sudan coup leader’s climbdown

Sudanese military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s decision to reinstate the ousted Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, is a climbdown from his attempt to consolidate power in his hands. On October 25, Gen. Burhan dissolved the Sovereignty Council, in which the military had shared power with civilian leaders, declared a state of emergency and imprisoned Mr. Hamdok, imperilling the country’s painful transition from dictatorship to democracy. But the generals apparently overplayed their hands. Protesters, who toppled Omar al-Bashir’s military-backed dictatorship in 2019 and then resisted the military’s attempts to seize power, were back on the streets. Despite the military regime’s use of force the demonstrations continued, challenging Gen. Burhan’s power grab. He also came under heavy international pressure, especially from the U.S., which had removed Sudan from the list of terror-sponsoring countries last year. The Biden administration froze aid worth $700 million after the coup and made it clear to the generals that any improvement in ties would be linked to the reinstating of Mr. Hamdok. Gen. Burhan finally decided to reinstate him and release all political prisoners arrested after the coup. He also said the military would support the country’s transition into democracy and elections, scheduled for July 2023.

While the deal points to the limits of the military, it does not necessarily mean that the transition will be smooth. Ever since Mr. Bashir was forced out of power, the military has been reluctant to share power with the civilian leadership. It was forced to make some concessions only because the country’s revolutionaries have acquired critical mass support which the generals can no longer ignore. The pro-democracy parties and organisations have already dismissed the deal between the military and Mr. Hamdok, and have vowed to continue the street protests. Mr. Hamdok, a British-educated economist who had worked with the UN, is in an unenviable position. He refused to resign while under house arrest and continued to resist the military coup, which inspired the protests. But his decision to reach a deal with the generals has turned at least sections of the protesters against him. And if street protests continue, it could undermine his government and weaken his negotiating capacity with the generals. To address these challenges, he should first win back the trust of the pro-democracy parties and organisations, and form an independent government with civil society representatives that should put the country’s fraught transition process back on track. The military may have taken a step back, but it could try to usurp power again. To prevent any such scenario, Sudan’s civilian leaders should stay united and take the country to full democracy and a new constitutional order.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 11:09:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/transition-troubles-the-hindu-editorial-on-sudan-coup-leaders-climbdown/article37653464.ece

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