December 7, 2022

Deposed Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok released, speaks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as UN meets but takes no action

Abdalla Hamdok
Abdalla Hamdok

The deposed prime minister of Sudan Abdalla Hamdok was released from detention on Tuesday, a day after he was overthrown by the military and detained, his office said in a statement.

Hamdok’s office said the prime minister and his wife were released under “heavy security” at their home in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and that other civilian officials who were also arrested and detained by the military junta remained in detention in unknown locations.

General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan on February 6, 2020 [Twitter]

Hamdok’s release followed condemnations by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and others.

The military takeover followed weeks of mounting tensions between civilian and military leaders over the pace Sudan’s transition to democracy. It also came as as General Al-Burhan, the leader of the coup, was supposed to hand over the leadership of the Sovereign Council that runs the country to a civilian next month.

Sudan’s military on Monday declared a state of emergency, dissolved the power-sharing government after arresting Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, wife Muna Abdallah, and several civilian ministers, including the minister of information.

In a televised address on Monday, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s armed forces, said an “independent and fair representative government” would assume power until an election is held in 2023.

Burhan added that several articles of the constitution were suspended while state governors were removed.

In his second televised appearance on Tuesday, Burhan said Hamdok was detained for his own safety and would be released, asserting that the military had been forced to step in to avoid a a civil war.

The general alleged that other senior government officials who remained in detention tried to incite a rebellion within the armed forces, adding that they would face trial and those who are found innocent would be released.

In Washington D.C., the United States government said Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke Hamdok, welcomed his release from custody and reiterated his call on Sudanese military forces to release all civilian leaders in detention and to ensure their safety.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken participates in a roundtable discussion with Executive Women@State via video teleconference from the U.S. Department of State in Washington

Blinken “also expressed his deep concern about the ongoing military takeover and repeated the imperative for military forces to use restraint and avoid violence in responding to demonstrators,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “The Secretary emphasized U.S. support for the civilian-led transition to democracy and for a return to the principles of Sudan’s transitional framework, as laid out in the 2019 Constitutional Declaration and the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement. He noted the growing chorus of international voices condemning the military takeover and supporting the calls by the Sudanese people for civilian leadership, democracy, and peace.”

Blinken also spoke with Democratic Republic of Congo President Félix Tshisekedi on Tuesday about the ongoing military takeover in Sudan, and both “discussed their shared concerns about the implications for democracy and stability in Sudan and in the region,” his office said.

“Given President Tshisekedi’s leadership as President of the African Union, they agreed on the need for a return to a civilian-led transitional government in line with the 2019 Constitutional Declaration brokered by the African Union,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price added in a statement.

Asked at a news briefing on Tuesday what the call between U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman with Egyptian officials was about, Ned Price reiterated that the U.S. had condemned the coup.

He said, “Let me start by saying, Matt, that we have been entirely unequivocal in our condemnation of the events over the past 36 or so hours. We made very clear yesterday that the anti-democratic actions of the Sudanese military – it subverted the constitutional declaration of 2019, but in some ways, more importantly, it has subverted the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people. And the Sudanese people have reaffirmed those democratic aspirations even in recent hours. We saw the Sudanese people peacefully take to the streets to make clear their – the fact that they seek a restoration of civilian-led democratic leadership.

“But it has not only been the United States that has been unequivocal in our condemnation of these events. We’ve joined nations and organizations from across the world in expressing concern. That includes the African Union, it includes the UN, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, France, Germany, Canada, and the UK, Sudan’s neighbors as well. To get to your question, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan have also called for de-escalation and dialogue.

“Since the events of late Sunday night our time, Monday in Khartoum, Secretary Blinken, the Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman, our Assistant Secretary for our African Affairs Bureau Molly Phee, and many others in this building and across this administration – they have been working the phones nonstop. They have been in touch with counterparts from the region, including Sudan’s neighbors – and you alluded to this, Matt. We have been in touch with governments in the broader Middle East. We have been in touch with our allies and partners all over the world, including Europe and elsewhere. So the Secretary has had calls. The special envoy has had a number of calls. Molly Phee has had a number of calls as well.

“When it comes to the Secretary, we’ll be in a position to read out some of those engagements, but this has been a priority for the leadership in this building to see to it that we work with the international community to effect what it is that we are trying to see: an immediate release of all political actors detained in connection with these events, a full restoration of the civilian-led transitional government, and a refraining from any violence against peaceful protesters, including the use of live ammunition. And we strongly condemn recent reports of violence against peaceful protesters.

“Our goal at this stage, Matt, in terms of all of these conversations, is to establish a common position with our allies and partners, and I think you’ve seen at least the initial iteration of a common position emerge, including from many of the countries and organizations that I just ran through. There has been a strong condemnation of the military takeover. There has been a call – a broad, unified call for a restoration of the civilian-led transitional government. There has been a call by many countries and international organizations for those detained, including Prime Minister Hamdok, Minister of Religious Affairs Mofarih, and others from the civilian government who have been detained, for them to be released, and of course, a strong, universal call for the military to refrain from violence against peaceful protesters seeking nothing more than the restoration of their democratic aspirations.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield

At the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Security Council held a closed-door meeting on Sudan but took no action.

In Niamey, the capital of Niger, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Tuesday met with President Mohamed Bazoum to strengthen ties with the West African nation, and both leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including how to “encourage timely democratic transitions in Chad, Mali, and Guinea,” as well as the crisis in Sudan, her office said.

Thomas-Greenfield was part of a United Nations Security Council Mission to Africa amid a growing instability on the continent, but the mission had to be cut short following the coup in Sudan. While the President of Chad was killed, the Presidents of Mali and Guinea and the Prime Minister of Sudan were all overthrown by soldiers.

The Security Council’s decision to take no action came after the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the Council to act to prevent what he described as “this epidemic of coups d’etats”, especially in Africa where the President of Chad was killed in combat, the Presidents of Guinea and Mali were overthrown and now the Prime Minister of Sudan has been deposed.

António Guterres
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