Why did the Sudanese transition stumble into a coup?
Sudan’s army and politicians have edged closer to a new power-sharing deal as international efforts intensify to reverse last week’s coup, according to people following the talks who disclosed the news on Wednesday.
Negotiations between the coup leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, former rebel groups and removed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok continued on Tuesday in the capital, Khartoum, a United Nations spokesperson said. Although there has been progress, key differences are said to remain and an outcome is not guaranteed.
The October 25 overthrow of the civilian-led government derailed a political process that was a rare bright spot in the Horn of Africa region bedeviled by dictatorship and conflict.
“I think they will reach a conclusion very soon,” Imad Adawi, the former chief of staff of Sudan’s military, said from Cairo after being briefed on talks by senior members of the army. “There are many facilitators, including Sudanese actors, South Sudan, African countries and the UN.”
Global condemnation of the coup was swift with the US and World Bank cutting aid to pressure the military into releasing Hamdok and his detained colleagues.
The US had been cultivating new ties with Sudan following the 2019 removal of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in mass protests, rescinding its 27-year listing as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Diplomats have said that al-Burhan sees the involvement of Hamdok, who is still under house arrest and has his interactions controlled, in a new administration as key to winning credibility. Sudan had been ruled by civilian and military figures in an uneasy arrangement since 2019.
Hamdok said on Monday the reinstatement of his government could pave the way to a solution in the country, the information ministry said.
The overthrown prime minister “insisted on the legitimacy of his government and transitional institutions”, the information ministry said on its Facebook page.
One proposal under discussion would see Hamdok given greater powers but with a new cabinet more palatable to the army, the people said, requesting anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to the media.
The army, in control for much of Sudan’s history since independence in 1956, would be in charge of the government’s powerful security and defence councils under the deal, the people said.
The formation of a new sovereign council, the top executive body headed by al-Burhan until he said he was dissolving it, is still being discussed, according to the people.
The army and politicians are at odds over the cabinet appointments component, the people said, describing a deal as still elusive. The UN special representative said on Monday “the contours of a package would become visible” in the coming days.
Army representatives did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.
The US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, said on Tuesday the army knows support for Sudan’s economic development and debt relief, as well as World Bank and International Monetary Fund financing, depend on restoring the democratic path.
Feltman said he was surprised by the coup, which happened hours after he left Sudan having tried to mend military-civilian ties.
Asked if the army deceived him, Feltman said: “I wouldn’t go so far to say they lied. What I would say is they seemed to be talking to us in bad faith.”