U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke on Monday with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and separately with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Chair of Sudan’s Sovereign Council.
“The Secretary encouraged both leaders to work rapidly to put Sudan’s democratic transition back on track. He recognized the important first step that had been taken with the release and reinstatement to office of Prime Minister Hamdok but noted the outstanding transitional tasks,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “To restore public confidence in the transition he urged the immediate release of all political detainees and pressed for the immediate lifting of the state of emergency.”
Price added that Blinken also “underscored the imperative for all parties to renew their focus on completing Sudan’s transition to democracy by implementing the transitional tasks outlined in the Constitutional Declaration and the Juba Peace Agreement”, and reiterated U.S. calls for respect for peaceful protests and called on the security forces to desist from the use of violence against demonstrators.
“The Secretary urged Prime Minister Hamdok and General Burhan to take timely action to implement the elements of the agreement reached November 21 in fulfillment of the aspirations of the Sudanese people, including creating a transitional legislative council, judicial structures, electoral institutions, and a constitutional convention. Both voiced their support for an effective and mutually beneficial U.S.-Sudan relationship,” said Price.
Hamdok was released from detention on Sunday following a deal that reinstated him to lead a civilian government supervised by the military.
Hamdok had been under house arrest since October 25 when he was ousted by soldiers under the control of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
The coup reignited mass protests in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and raised political uncertainty in the country, two years after a popular uprising sacked longtime autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Under the deal, political prisoners who were detained during and following the coup would be released and the military would no longer be in charge of running the country as General Burhan has done in the past four weeks using emergency powers.
The African Union praised the new agreement, writing in a statement that the commission’s chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat was satisfied.
“The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has learned with satisfaction of the signing of the agreement reached between the President of the Sudanese Supreme Council, Abdel Fatah Al Burhan, and Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdock, today, 21 November 2021,” AUC said in a statement.
It added, “The Chairperson commends this important step towards the return to constitutional order as enshrined in the Khartoum agreements of August 19, 2019, which frame the consensual and democratic transition in Sudan.
“He encourages all political and social, civil and military actors to deepen this orientation and to implement it inclusively and effectively, in a climate of peace and national reconciliation.
“The Chairperson of the Commission calls on the international community to renew its commitment in solidarity with Sudan so that it regains peace and prepares, in a democratic consensus, for regular and free elections, which are the only path to put a definitive end to the institutional turmoil in the country and ensure its sustainable development.”
The Sudanese Professionals Association, however, said that the new deal fell “far from the aspirations of our people and that it was “nothing more than ink on paper.”
Reuters quoted Hamdok as calling for calm on Sunday even as many youths continued to demand a full transfer of power to a civilian government.
“I know our youth have the capacity for sacrifice, determination, and giving up all that is precious,” Hamdok said Sunday, according to Reuters. “But Sudanese blood is precious. Let us stop the bloodshed and direct the youths’ energy into building and development.”
The Washington Post noted that “protesters were out in the thousands on Sunday, many openly denouncing Hamdok, who until now had been seen as a kind of hero, enduring house arrest while pushing for a civilian government.”
“The streets have already vowed to keep resisting, so it’s likely that we’ll see more, not fewer, protests,” said Kholood Khair, managing partner at Insight Strategy Partners, a policy research think tank in Khartoum, according to The Post. “They feel that they have been betrayed multiple times already and that now Hamdok is the latest.”
The resistance by the youths may signal that the deal may further plunge Sudan into political uncertainty.