SUDAN’S Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who is under house arrest following a military coup on Monday, says that he will never ‘willingly’ stand down, according to sources close to the prime minister.
Hamdok’s remarks come a day after hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated across the country in opposition to the October 25 takeover, and as international condemnation of the military’s actions grows.
Hamdok, who has been detained since the coup, can only be met in the presence of a military escort, said the sources, who spoke to CNN exclusively on Sunday. However, the military is allowing international and local mediators to meet with him, as pressure from the United States and other international actors ratchets up for his release.
Sources close to the prime minister and the mediation talks laid out four steps that need to be taken to reinstate order in the country and to resume negotiations on Sunday, saying that it must start with Hamdok’s release and a return to the ‘status quo.’
Since the 2019 Sudan uprising that led to the toppling of President Omar al-Bashir’s three-decade rule, Sudan had been ruled by a Sovereign Council and the transitional government, a shaky alliance of military and civilian groups.
Monday’s coup, led by Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, followed months of rising tensions in the country. Burhan was supposed to relinquish control of the council to a civilian leader in the next few weeks. Instead, he dissolved the council, saying that he would hold elections in July 2023 and hand over power to an ‘independent and fair representative government’ then.
‘The PM concedes the situation was untenable, however the change needed to occur through a political process,’ one source said.
Hamdok is now calling for an overhaul of the political process, leading to a re-structuring of the sovereign council, for him to have full authority and independence in forming a cabinet of politically independent technocrats of his own choosing and to broaden political participation for greater representation, the source said.
‘Without this acknowledgment and without the commitment to return to how things were, the Prime Minister will not negotiate. He refuses to stand down willingly as Prime Minister,’ the source said.
The source also said that the military’s stance is making negotiation difficult.
‘What is obstructing talks currently is that the military leadership is unified in their current course of action and in their belief that this is not a coup but a “correction of the revolution” i.e. part of the political process,’ the source said.
A nationwide civil disobedience campaign in Sudan on Saturday brought the country’s capital to a standstill, with streets filled with demonstrators chanting anti-military slogans and waving anti-coup banners.
The protests were called by the activist coalition Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) who are demanding the restoration of the country’s transitional civilian government and who called on on protesters to join a ‘million-man march’ against the military takeover.
‘We are here to tell the world that we will not accept any military interference to decide the fate of our country,’ one protester in Khartoum said Saturday.
Protestors also called for Burhan’s resignation.
The military took violent steps to repress the demonstrations, killing at least three people and wounding at least 100 others, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors (CCSD), which is aligned with the civil component of the now-dissolved Sovereign Council.
The CCSD said people were wounded during the protests when the military fired live bullets and used tear gas at demonstrators in several areas across the country to disperse the crowds.
Defying the military’s response, demonstrators called for protests to continue on Sunday evening. And civil disobedience campaigns continue throughout the country, with many shops and banks continuing to keep their doors closed in protest of the coup.
The coup has been widely condemned by world leaders, including those from the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the African Union and the United Nations, who have all urged stakeholders to return to the country’s democratic transition process.
On Saturday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he applauded the ‘courage of so many people who peacefully protested military rule.’
‘The military should take heed,’ Guterres said in a tweet. ‘Time to go back to the legitimate constitutional arrangements. Reports of violence are alarming & perpetrators must be brought to justice,’ he said.