the army frees prisoners from the putsch while devoting its stranglehold on power

Sudanese authorities have freed several politicians who had been detained since the October 25 military coup, fulfilling a key clause in the agreement reached on Sunday between the generals and resettled prime minister Abdallah Hamdok, the government told Monday. ‘AFP one of them. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, however, seems to confirm his grip on the transition in the country.

By reinstalling civilian Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok a month after his putsch, Sudanese general Abdel Fattah al-Burhane seems to have succeeded in apparently satisfying the international community while devoting his stranglehold on the transition, experts say.

The authorities have taken a further step in this direction by releasing several politicians detained since the military coup of October 25, in compliance with a key clause of the agreement reached on Sunday November 21 between generals and Abdallah Hamdok, one of the released on Monday (November 22) told AFP.

“I was released late (Sunday evening) when I had been held in solitary confinement since October 25, completely cut off from the world” for almost a month, said Omar al-Daguir, leader of the Congress party .

He had been rounded up at dawn on the day of the coup at the same time as many Sudanese civilian officials, some of whom had shared power with the army since the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir, driven out under pressure from the street in 2019.

A few hours later, the army chief, General Burhane, announced the dissolution of the institutions and declared a state of emergency.

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, arrested and then placed under house arrest, appeared to him in public on Sunday, November 21, for the first time since the putsch. He signed a 14-point agreement with General Burhane, which notably provides for his return to the post of Prime Minister and the release of detained civilian officials.

According to Omar al-Daguir, other important figures of the Sudanese political landscape have been released, including officials of the al-Ummah party, the largest in the country.

Abdallah Hamdok has “totally surrendered”

In recent weeks, the Sudanese have marched by tens of thousands against military rule and demanded the release of civilian leaders, despite a bloody crackdown that left 41 dead and hundreds injured, as well as a long communication cut-off.

If they have long brandished photos of Abdallah Hamdok whom they considered the only “legitimate” leader of Sudan, demonstrators on Sunday tore the portrait of the Prime Minister, now perceived by some as a traitor to the “revolution” of 2019.

“The Prime Minister and his allies have totally capitulated” to General Burhane, head of the army, who had them arrested on the day of the putsch on October 25, Magdi Gizouli, researcher at the Rift Valley Institute, told AFP.

The agreement between the two parties also endorses the new Sovereignty Council redacted from supporters of civilian power and which it still heads with its second, the paramilitary Mohammed Hamdane Daglo.

This is “what the army wanted from the start,” explains Magdi Gizouli. It is therefore “not a surprise, simply a normalization of the coup d’etat which becomes de facto the new state of affairs”.

However, the generals and Abdallah Hamdok affirmed to join forces again to put the democratic transition back on track, in this country which has hardly known anything but the military dictatorship since its independence, 65 years ago.

But thanks to the agreement in question, experts believe, General Burhane has above all succeeded in satisfying the international community while devoting his grip on the transition.

The Troika – the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway – to maneuver on the Sudanese dossier, the African Union and the European Union have already welcomed the agreement, as well as Egypt and Saudi Arabia , two Arab allies of the Sudanese army.

The Sovereignty Council, made up of soldiers and civilians, is the highest body of the transitional authorities set up in 2019 after the army sidelined General Omar al-Bashir under pressure from the streets. He is accompanied by a civilian body, the government of Abdallah Hamdok.

After the coup d’état, General Burhane remained at the head of this Council, appointing soldiers to it but replacing its pro-civilian members with apolitical civilians.

“Government at the total mercy of the army and under the threat” of a new putsch

“If Abdallah Hamdok had given in before October 25, there would have been much less loss,” continues Magdi Gizouli, referring to the death of 41 people in the repression of anti-coup demonstrations.

By playing the clock, General Burhane reached “an agreement that makes us forget that there was a coup and allows the army to catch its breath (…)”, judge Kholood Khair, specialist from Sudan for Insight Strategy partners.

The soldiers have already responded to the demands of the international community: they have registered the return of Abdallah Hamdok, promised the release of the imprisoned leaders and soon a government of civilians.

Better yet, the military brought Abdallah Hamdok into their camp – and like them, he has become a street target who now scolds him as much as General Burhane.

“He will quickly lose all his credibility and be more isolated,” said Kholood Khair, stressing that the Forces for Freedom and Change (FLC), the pro-civil bloc in Sudan, have been removed from the Sovereignty Council.

“The future government is at the total mercy of the army and now under the daily threat of a new coup,” says Magdi Gizouli. Because “this agreement does not bring any systemic change”, completes Kholood Khair.

No transmission of power to civilians

Abdallah Hamdok “will be what the army wants him to be because whatever obstacle he encounters, he will no longer have any political leverage or popular base as before,” explains Magdi Gizouli.

As for the other civilian leaders, “those whom the army does not want will surely be the subject of legal proceedings”, as General Burhane has already suggested, underlines the expert.

In addition to the reshaping of the new authorities with purges in almost all sectors, General Burhane succeeded in erasing from the transition the main point that was causing him problems.

Since Sunday’s agreement, there has been no question of the military handing over the leadership of the Sovereignty Council to civilians, a handover that the 2019 roadmap on the transition process provided for shortly.

“Burhane will remain at the head of the Sovereignty Council until the elections” promised in 2023, notes Magdi Gizouli.

There is only one obstacle left: the street.

“The main demand of the street was not the release of Abdallah Hamdok but the withdrawal of the military from politics,” explains Kholood Khair. “Initial doubts in the street over the reliability of international pressure will increase, as will instability in Sudan.”

With AFP

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