Sudan’s military and civilian leaders reached a deal Sunday to reinstate Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was ousted in a coup last month that reignited mass protests and political uncertainty more than two years after a popular uprising forced out longtime autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Hamdok, who had spent the past month under house arrest, praised the agreement as a way to restore Sudan’s fragile democratic transition, but the country’s swelling and powerful protest movement, which seeks the removal of the military leaders behind the coup, roundly rejected the deal.

Calling it a “treasonous agreement,” the Sudanese Professionals Association, which has been at the forefront of protests that have roiled Sudan since late 2018, said the deal fell “far from the aspirations of our people” and was “nothing more than ink on paper.”

Top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who had hitherto used a state of emergency to consolidate power within his office, said Hamdok will lead “an independent technocratic cabinet until elections can be held,” according to the Associated Press, which noted that the government would still remain under military oversight.

The deal seemed likely to further plunge Sudan into turmoil, rather than calm weeks of protests and strikes that have paralyzed the capital, Khartoum. A prominent doctors union alleged that security forces have killed 40 protesters since the coup. The group said some were killed by live ammunition, while others suffocated from widespread use of tear gas.

“I know our youth have the capacity for sacrifice, determination, and giving up all that is precious,” Hamdok said Sunday, according to Reuters. “But Sudanese blood is precious. Let us stop the bloodshed and direct the youths’ energy into building and development.”

The deal reportedly includes guarantees to release government officials and politicians held since the Oct. 25 military takeover.

Many protesters had hoped that Hamdok would hold out for an agreement that would ensure a full transfer of power to civilians and not a deal with coup orchestrators who had begun assembling a government replete with old figures from the Bashir regime.

Protesters were out in the thousands on Sunday, many openly denouncing Hamdok, who until now had been seen as a kind of hero, enduring house arrest while pushing for a civilian government.

“The streets have already vowed to keep resisting, so it’s likely that we’ll see more, not fewer, protests,” said Kholood Khair, managing partner at Insight Strategy Partners, a policy research think tank in Khartoum. “They feel that they have been betrayed multiple times already and that now Hamdok is the latest.”

The Forces of Freedom and Change, a political party that was part of Hamdok’s pre-coup government, said in a statement that its position remained clear: “No negotiation and no partnership and no legitimacy for the putschists.”

The deal follows weeks of feverish shuttle diplomacy by regional powers as well as the United States’ top officials in the region.

Senior State Department officials had been pushing for Hamdok to be returned to power, including in recent visits by Molly Phee, the top U.S. diplomat in Africa, and Jeffrey Feltman, the special envoy for the Horn of Africa region.

Phee traveled to Khartoum from Nov. 14 to 16 and worked to advance efforts to “support the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people and to restore the country’s civilian transition to democracy, including the return of Prime Minister Hamdok,” said a State Department spokesman.

During her meetings, Phee “urged the release of civilian leaders and protesters detained since the October 25 military takeover and called for the security services to exercise restraint in dealing with peaceful protests,” the spokesman said. She also met with Burhan.

A senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to give a more candid assessment of Sunday’s deal, said, “The announcement itself is not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for execution and this to stick.”

Written By Obioma Ezenwobodo Esq

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