Nairobi, Kenya – Faced with a new wave of street protests, the Sudanese military has agreed to reinstate a civilian prime minister who was ousted in a coup last month and agreed to release political prisoners, mediators and news reports said Sunday.
Any deal could unlock a deadly stalemate that has engulfed Sudan since the military coup on October 25, provoking a bloody crackdown that has killed dozens of protesters and threatened to derail the fragile transformation of the country’s democracy.
But despite reports of an agreement on Sunday morning, the main coalition of political and civil society has vehemently rejected it. And there has been no word yet on the whereabouts of ousted Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, who is apparently still under house arrest, an aide said.
Mr Hamdok became prime minister in 2019 after protests against the ouster of longtime Sudanese dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir. He accepted the post as part of a power-sharing agreement between civilian and military leaders, which led to democratic elections.
A week of alleged talks between Mr Hamdok and the army chief, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, backed by US and Sudanese leaders, has been embroiled in controversy over whether Mr Hamdok should be reinstated – and under what conditions.
On Sunday, Fadlullah Burma, head of the Ummah party and one of several mediators, told Reuters and other news agencies that an agreement had been reached during talks on Saturday night.
Under the agreement, Mr Hamdock will return to his post until the 2023 election, and dozens of other civilians detained during the coup will be released, Mr Burma, a former army general, said.
The sovereign council, a joint civilian-military governing body led by General Al-Burhan, will hold an emergency meeting on Sunday before announcing the agreement, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.
But it was not clear when such a meeting would take place, and the Force for Freedom and Change – a coalition of political and civil society groups that led protests against Mr al-Bashir in 2019 – came out strongly against the reported agreement.
“There is no negotiation, no partnership and no legitimacy for the coup,” it said in a statement on social media.
A senior aide to Mr Hamdok confirmed that he had discussed with the commander of a powerful paramilitary force, General Burhan, and Lieutenant General Mohammad Hamdan a possible solution to the crisis on Saturday.
But the aide, who said he had contacted Mr Hamdock through a mediator, said there was still disagreement over the terms of a deal, particularly the formation of an interim government.
Many false claims of political agreement have been made, usually on the eve of major street protests, the aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid military retaliation.
News of the deal comes hours before a new wave of planned street protests against the coup. Protests escalate into bloodshed: At least 15 people were killed in a shootout with security forces in the capital, Khartoum, on Wednesday, the country’s largest medical group said.
With news of the deal filtered out on Sunday, it was unclear whether those protests would go ahead.