CAIRO (AP) — Sudan’s prime minister on Friday announced a series of steps for his country’s transition to democracy less than a month after a coup attempt rocked its leadership.
In a speech, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok called the coup attempt an ‘alarm bell’ that should awaken people to the causes of the country’s political and economic challenges.
“The serious political crisis that we are living in right now, I would not be exaggerating to say, is the worst and most dangerous crisis that not only threatens the transition, but threatens our whole country,” he said.
Authorities announced the coup attempt by a group of soldiers on Sept. 22, saying that it had failed. They blamed supporters of the country’s former autocrat Omar al-Bashir for planning the takeover. It underscored the fragility of Sudan’s path to democracy, more than two years after the military’s overthrow of Bashir amid a massive public uprising against his three-decade rule. Sudan has since been ruled by an interim, joint civilian-military government. Months after al-Bashir’s toppling, the ruling generals agreed to share power with civilians representing the protest movement.
But tensions between the civilians and generals in the transitional government have increased since the foiled coup attempt within the military. There is wide-scale mistrust of the military leaders among the protest movement, and tens of thousands have taken to the street in the past two years to call for an immediate handover of power to civilians.
Earlier this month, the Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded the nationwide uprising that kicked off in December 2018, said the interim government must end its power-sharing agreement with the military council. Their call then for demonstrations brought thousands more to the streets.
Hamdok said Friday that the root issues behind the political crisis have long been there, in an attempt to bring all parties back to the table for talks. In a speech to mark the Muslim holiday of the Prophet Muhammed’s birthday, he laid out a series of measures that he said would help speed the handover to a completely elected and civilian government. They included repeated exhortations for groups of differing opinions to work together, and for the country’s transitional constitution and judicial bodies to be respected.
“This crisis was not created today, it did not descend upon us from the sky, and it did not surprise us at all,” he said of the recent political turmoil.
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