Sudan’s Military Frees Prime Minister Held for Weeks After Coup

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NAIROBI, Kenya – The Sudanese prime minister was released from custody Sunday, four weeks after he was ousted in a military coup, as part of a deal to end a bloody standoff that killed dozens of protesters and threatened to disrupt the fragile transition of Sudan. towards democracy.

Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok was released hours after negotiators said he had made a deal with Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the army commander who removed him from power on October 25.providing for the immediate reinstatement of Mr. Hamdock and the release of most of the other political prisoners.

Sudanese state media reported that Mr. Hamdok was taken to the presidential palace, where a deal signing ceremony was reportedly underway. The state media report was accompanied by a photograph of Mr. Hamdok and General al-Burhan sitting together, although it was unclear if the image was taken on Sunday.

The exact terms were unclear, and there were early signs that the deal would be completely rejected by angry young Sudanese who have gathered in the capital Khartoum and other cities in recent weeks to protest the dominance of the military.

The protests are becoming more bloody. On Wednesday, 17 demonstrators in Khartoum were killed by security forces, most of them were shot dead, bringing the death toll to 40 in the week of unrest and hundreds more injured, according to Sudan. largest group of doctors

By Sunday afternoon, several protesters had gathered outside the gates of the presidential palace, where Mr. Hamdok and the military leaders had gathered, according to images broadcast on Al Jazeera TV.

The deal was announced Sunday morning by the leader of the Ummah party, the largest in Sudan. But due to the rapidly changing situation, his own party disavowed the deal a few hours later.

The deal was also rejected by the Sudanese Forces of Freedom and Change, a coalition of civil society and political groups that said they could not make any compromise with the military, signaling how difficult it would be to achieve widespread acceptance of the agreement.

“For revolutionaries, there is no negotiation, no partnership and no legitimacy,” the coalition group said. social media statement

Mr Hamdock became prime minister in 2019 after violent protests ousted the longtime dictator of the Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. He took over as part of a power-sharing agreement between civilian and military leaders that would lead to democratic elections.

General al-Burhan came under tremendous pressure from the United States and other Western countries to reverse the coup. Their pressure included freezing aid to Sudan, which is in deep economic crisis, and ending debt relief programs worth up to $ 50 billion.

But the military seems determined to ensure the balance of power in Sudan, even if the democratic transition is back on track and elections can be held as planned in late 2023 or early 2024.

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