Sudan’s military leaders reinstate the ousted prime minister, saying political prisoners will be released

Sudan’s ousted prime minister on Sunday signed an agreement with the military that will see him reinstated, almost a month after a military coup put him under house arrest. A major pro-democracy group, which has mobilized dozens of protests, dismissed the agreement as “a form of treason.”

The country’s supreme general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said in television statements that Abdalla Hamdok will lead an independent technocratic cabinet until elections can be held. It is still unclear how much power the government wants. It would still remain under military supervision.

It is also still unclear whether all political parties and pro-democracy groups have signed the agreement.

The deal expects the military to release officials and politicians arrested since the October 25 coup.

The coup, more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government, has drawn international criticism.

Investigation of protest violence

“The signing of this agreement opens the door wide enough to address all the challenges of the transition period,” Hamdok said as he spoke at the signing ceremony, which was broadcast on state television.

Sudanese have taken to the streets since the military takeover, which changed the country’s fragile transition to democracy. The deal comes days after doctors said at least 15 people were killed by live fire during anti-coup demonstrations.

The agreement also stipulates that an investigation will be conducted to identify those responsible for the killing and wounding of civilians and troops who marred protests after the coup.

Hamdok thanked Sudan’s “regional and global friends” who helped reach agreement, but he did not name the countries.

Sudanese in a coffee shop in Khartoum watch a live broadcast of Hamdok during the signing ceremony on Sunday. (AFP / Getty Images)

The agreement of 14 paragraphs also emphasized that power was to be transferred to an elected civilian government after the end of the transitional period.

“By signing this declaration, we were able to lay a genuine foundation for the transition period,” Burhan said.

Hamdok accused of “political suicide”

The Sudanese Professionals Association, a group that played a key role in the uprising against Bashir, expressed their fierce opposition to the deal, accusing Hamdok of committing “political suicide”.

“This agreement concerns only its signatories and it is an unfair attempt to give legitimacy to the recent coup and the military council,” the group tweeted shortly after the agreement was signed.

In the past, the Forces for Freedom and Change, the group that spearheaded the uprising that culminated in Bashir’s removal, has protested against any agreement with the military.

In a statement Sunday, the group reiterated its opposition to any new political partnership with the military and insisted that the perpetrators of the coup should be brought to justice.

“We are not concerned about any agreements with this brutal junta and we are using all peaceful and creative methods to bring it down,” the statement said.

The largest of the political parties said to be included in the agreement, the Umma Party, had also issued a statement suggesting it did not sign it.

‘An agreement among elites’

Cameron Hudson, a former State Department official and Sudan expert at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, said the agreement allows generals to largely retain their control and avoid responsibility for the coup and the deaths of dozens of protesters.

“This is an agreement among elites who largely seem to prioritize their preservation over street demands,” he said.

People are protesting against the military takeover, which changed Sudan’s fragile transition to democracy, in Khartoum on Sunday. (Marwan Ali / The Associated Press)

Thousands had taken to the streets of the capital Khartoum on Sunday, shortly before the signing ceremony, to condemn the coup and demand an immediate transfer of power to civilians. Protesters waved the Sudanese flag and shouted “Power is for the people! The military must stay in the barracks.”

Also in the past, military and government officials, who spoke about the agreement on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information, said the UN, the United States and others had played “crucial roles” in drafting the agreement.

The United States, its allies and the United Nations have condemned the use of excessive force against anti-coup protesters.

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