Sudan’s Ousted Prime Minister Wants Coup Reverted Before Talks

The prime minister ousted by the Sudanese army this week is willing to negotiate the formation of a new government on the condition that the army reverse its coup and release the detainees, sources who met with him said on Friday.

The coup leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, appeared to leave the door open for Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to lead a new government in remarks broadcast Thursday, saying he would be free to form the cabinet of his choice.

Sources who met with Hamdok said he wants dialogue, but on the condition that the situation returns to the way it was on the eve of Monday’s coup, which derailed Sudan’s transition to democracy after decades of authoritarian rule.

The conflicting positions point to the difficulty of reaching a mediated exit from the crisis: The military told mediators that it would only release detainees who did not face criminal charges, the sources said, echoing Burhan’s comments this week.

Western states have cut hundreds of millions of dollars in desperately needed aid to Sudan since Burhan dissolved Hamdok’s cabinet and soldiers detained government ministers on Monday, demanding that the civilian-led cabinet be reinstated.

A roadblock catches fire during what the Information Ministry calls a military coup in Khartoum, Sudan, on October 25, 2021 (credit: REUTERS / EL TAYEB SIDDIG)

Opponents of the coup have called for massive protests on Saturday under the slogan “Go away!” At least 11 protesters have been killed in clashes with security forces so far this week, and residents say they fear full-blown repression.

“I am afraid that this country will catch fire. We are afraid that these people will kill our children. There have been enough deaths already,” said a Khartoum woman in her 70s who requested anonymity.

A senior US State Department official said the protests would be proof of the army’s intentions in the future and urged the military to refrain from any violence against protesters.

Washington was relieved to see that Hamdok was allowed to return home, but was still under house arrest and unable to resume his work, said the official, who informed reporters on condition of anonymity.

Several mediation efforts emerged on Friday, including one from neighboring Egypt, but there have been no signs of progress.

In Khartoum, a committee of national figures was formed to mediate and met with both the military and civilians, a member told Reuters.

But a Western diplomat said it would be difficult for the public to accept a compromise that would return to the pre-coup status quo.

“It may be the reasonable way out, maybe even the only way out that doesn’t involve a higher level of violence. But would it last and would it be accepted? My personal thought is no on both counts.”

A European diplomat also said that Western states do not seek to engage with the military or mediate any negotiations until the detainees are released and the military demonstrates a commitment to power-sharing as set out in the transitional constitutional declaration.

The transition was destined for the 2023 elections, after longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was ousted two years ago. The UN Security Council has called for the restoration of civilian rule.


In a speech Thursday night, Burhan said Hamdok had been offered the opportunity to return as prime minister. “We told him that we had cleared the stage for him … he is free to form a government, we are not going to intervene in the formation of the government,” he said in statements broadcast on Al-Jazeera TV.

An ousted Hamdok government minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, said cabinet members were not opposed to standing aside for a new government, as long as it is led and elected by Hamdok, and the transitional agreement is restored. In its whole.

Burhan has said he moved to avoid civil war after civilian politicians stoked hostility toward the armed forces.

He says he is still committed to a democratic transition, including elections for 2023, but favors a government that would exclude partisan politicians.

In comments to the Russian news agency Sputnik published on Friday, Burhan said that a new government would be headed by a technocrat who could be elected within a week and would be allowed to select a cabinet.

Egyptian officials, including intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, have spoken with Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, another senior Sudanese commander, in the past two days in an attempt to restore calm and mediate the formation of a new government. a security source for Egyptian intelligence. said.

Since becoming de facto head of state in 2019, Burhan has developed good ties with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Arab states allied to the United States happy to see the fall of Bashir, whose Islamism they opposed.

The coup has prompted donors to freeze much-needed assistance in a country where more than half the population lives in poverty and hardships have fueled instability and civil wars.

Speaking to Reuters, Burhan’s media adviser, Brigadier Altahir Abuhaja, rejected Western criticism that the inauguration was a betrayal of the Sudanese people.

“What happened in Sudan is not a betrayal or a coup, but a straightening of the path of the revolution. General Burhan is the most concerned about the democratic transition.”

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