On January 2, after weeks of announcements and denials, the Prime Minister of Sudan, Abdalla Hamdok, has officially resigned.
Judging the ongoing political crisis as irremediable, and admitting the impossibility of convincing the forces of the political opposition of the need for a compromise, the Prime Minister had to accept the evidence of a political context now completely polarized and in no way reconcilable through compromise.
Hamdok announced his resignation during a television interview broadcasted by national television in the early evening of December 2, reiterating his belief in the need for an agreement between the opposition forces and the government including the leadership of the armed forces, which, according to the former prime minister, is the only way to save the political transition process underway in Sudan.
Hamdok continued in his speech inviting the parties to accept the proposal of a working table aimed at defining a new “national charter”, without which it will be impossible to determine a roadmap for the organization of elections and transition to democracy.
Hamdok, openly challenged by the oppositions as a result of his acceptance of a new assignment by the same military authorities that had dismissed and arrested him on October 25, has failed to convince the Sudanese society – and especially the increasingly fierce political opposition – of the need for a compromise, in order to avoid direct confrontation especially with those bangs of the armed forces well known for their authoritarianism and interest in defending the deep-rooted economic interests under their direct control.
Hamdok’s resignation now opens a new and completely unexplored phase of the political crisis underway in Sudan, fuelling fears of a more decisive military intervention, above all to stop the continuous public demonstrations of protest against the government.
The military leadership that leads the country, divided internally between the regular forces and the autonomous militias – especially the Rapid Support Forces of Gen. Dagalo – is now faced with the uncertainty of the possibility of forming a new civilian-led government with credibility and legitimacy.
The evident attempt to contain the continuous public demonstrations by limiting the use of force as much as possible – a necessary condition to prevent new victims from fuelling a wider rebellion – could now be thwarted by the tangible tension between the armed forces and the police, and the possible willingness of some bangs of the military apparatus to exercise authoritarian measures to bring the entire political control of the country under the military sphere.
It is clear, at present, that the military apparatus does not intend to withdraw from the prerogatives it has held since the time of Omar al-Bashir’s regime, and this is especially evident for the component of autonomous militias – many of which were created by Omar al-Bashir to fuel the conflict in the Darfur region – which today control an important part of the national economic system. Even the component of the regular armed forces does not intend to give up its central role in the management of political power, although in this context there are different and less radical positions than those of the autonomous militias.
The prospects for the management of the political crisis, in this phase, are reduced to the perpetuation of the military’s attempt to appoint a new prime minister in line with them, without considering, however, how such a choice could prove fatal for the management of popular discontent, as amply demonstrated by the opposition to former Prime Minister Hamdok.
On the regional relations front, instead, the Sudanese press reported the news of the meeting between an Ethiopian and a Sudanese military delegation, during which the federal forces of Addis Ababa asked for the reopening of the border post of Gallabat-Metema. The government of Khartoum seems to be opposed to the request, while the Ethiopian press has once again accused Sudan of giving hospitality and training to Tigrinya fighters repaired in Sudanese territory with the status of refugees.