Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced on Sunday that he was stepping down from his role.
His resignation comes six weeks after he was reinstated as part of an agreement with the military that originally overthrew the government in October.
“I decided to give back the responsibility and announce my resignation as prime minister, and give a chance to another man or woman of this noble country to … help it pass through what’s left of the transitional period to a civilian democratic country,” Hamdok said in a televised address.
Hours before the announcement, thousands of protesters took to the streets in the capital calling on the military to stop interfering in the transition.
Why is Hamdok stepping down?
Hamdok’s decision comes amid stunted attempts to carry out a democratic transition in the country. He has called for a roundtable discussion to table a new agreement on how this can be achieved.
“I have tried my best to stop the country from sliding towards disaster,” he said, addressing the nation.
“In view of the fragmentation of the political forces and conflicts between the (military and civilian) components of the transition … despite everything that has been done to reach a consensus … it has not happened,” he said.
Sudan “is crossing a dangerous turning point that threatens its whole survival”, he added.
Hamdok had got the military to agree to elections in 2023, but rumors of his possible resignation began to circulate after local media reported that he had not been in his office for days.
Kholood Khair, managing partner at the Insight Strategy Partners think tank, told DW that the prime minister “quite literally” couldn’t accomplish any of his plans for the continued political transition.
“The transition is effectively dead, as of the October 25th coup,” she added.
What was the response abroad?
Most Western countries seemed to strike a moderate tone in their response to Hamdok’s move.
The US called on Sudanese leaders to “set aside differences, find consensus, and ensure continued civilian rule” according to the power-sharing deal from 2019.
“The United States continues to stand with the people of Sudan as they push for democracy,” the US State Department said. “Violence against protestors must cease.”
The German government described Hamdok’s resignation as regrettable, and said pro-democracy rallies showed that people in Sudan reject a military takeover. Berlin echoed Washington’s appeal to unity and return to civilian rule.
The UN’s Special Representative in Sudan, Volker Perthes, also said he regretted Hamdok’s decision, adding that the crisis risked the progress made since the ousting of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir.
The UK’s Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, tweeted that she was “deeply saddened” by Hamdok’s resignation, describing him as a man who “was serving Sudan and its people’s desire for a better future.”
“Millions have raised their voices since [October] coup to demand civilian rule: security forces and other political actors must now respect those demands,” she wrote on Twitter.
What is the situation in Sudan?
The news of Hamdok’s plan to leave power throws the country into further uncertainty, three years after a popular uprising toppled Bashir.
Hamdok first became prime minister as part of a deal with the military. He had previously served as an official for the United Nations and is trained as an economist.
The military — under the leadership of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan — then conducted a coup on October 25, sparking concern for the state of the country’s struggling democratic transition. He was reinstated in November.
Despite the concession from the military, protests continued. Protest organizers claimed that the reinstatement of Hamdok was a move by the military to legitimize the coup.
Police and security forces have responded in a heavy-handed way against protesters leading to scores of them being killed.