Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s resignation on Sunday was triggered after the military went back on a “non-interference” agreement struck in November and relaunched the feared national intelligence agency, according to Sudanese political sources speaking to CNN.
A video address from Hamdok posted on the verified YouTube account of the Prime Minister’s office Sunday confirmed he had resigned.
Hamdok previously stated a key demand of the November 21 deal was independence in his choice of political appointees, as he sought to bring the country back from the brink of chaos following the October 25 military coup.
But the military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, made clear its unhappiness with Hamdok’s choice of undersecretaries and general secretaries’ appointments at various ministries, according to several senior political sources that CNN spoke to, including a source in Hamdok’s office, a member in the National Forces Initiative and a source close to Hamdok himself.
The sources spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the current political climate.
In addition to reports of interfering in Hamdok’s political appointments, Sudan’s military leadership announced a rebranded relaunch of former dictator Omar al-Bashir’s notorious national intelligence service (NISS) on December 30. It is now known as the General Intelligence Service (GIS).
Previous CNN investigations have implicated the agency in the deaths of protesters. Its continued influence, sources say, was another “red line” for Hamdok, rendering the relationship with the military untenable.
“The restoration of arrest and search authority to the intelligence service and the continuation of repression against the demonstrators was the straw that broke the camel’s back in the Burhan-Hamdok agreement,” a senior source in the civilian leadership told CNN.
CNN has reached out to contacts within the Sudanese military for comment but has so far received no response.
The European Union and the so-called Troika on Sudan – the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom – called on “all Sudanese leaders to recommit to the country’s democratic transition” following Hamdok’s resignation, according to a joint statement on Tuesday.
The group said that they would not support the unilateral appointment of a new prime minister “without the involvement of a broad range of civilian stakeholders.”
“We look forward to working with a government and a transitional parliament, which enjoy credibility with the Sudanese people and can lead the country to free and fair elections as a priority,” the statement said, adding: “This will be necessary to facilitate the European Union and the Troika’s provision of economic assistance to Sudan.”
‘Freedom and justice’
Hamdok’s resignation speech came after three protesters were killed by Sudanese security forces during anti-coup demonstrations near the capital Sunday, the civilian-allied Sudanese Central Doctors Committee (SCDC) said.
Sunday’s protests in Omdurman, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) northwest of Khartoum, were the 14th day of mass demonstrations against military rule since the military coup. At least 57 people have been killed by security forces since, the SCDC reported.
In the speech, Hamdok said he was stepping down to make way “for the daughters or sons” of the country to complete the transitional period.
Hamdok praised the Sudanese people for their determination in demanding “freedom and justice” during the protests, adding that “you will definitely have a better future with your revolutionary enthusiasm.”
On Monday, Volker Perthes, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative for Sudan, told CNN that the UN is willing to “facilitate a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue” between Sudanese stakeholders in order to prevent further escalation in the region.
Perthes said that various parties – including the UN – have been calling out for “credible investigations on who did the killing” so that culprits can be brought to court, an action which would serve as an indicator of the government’s intention in “rebuilding the trust they have lost in the people of Sudan.”
When asked if the country’s military should be held accountable for their acts of violence against the people of Sudan, Perthes said, “Leaders should be responsible for what they do.”
‘It did not survive’
Sudan had been ruled by an uneasy alliance between the military and civilian groups since 2019. But in October, the military effectively took control, dissolving the power-sharing Sovereign Council and transitional government, and temporarily detaining Hamdok, the prime minister.
Al-Burhan reinstated Hamdok in November as part of a deal between the military and civilian leadership.
Under the deal agreed to by Hamdok and Al-Burhan, Hamdok would again become leader of the transitional government, which was first established after strongman Bashir was ousted in 2019.
In his resignation speech, Hamdok said that his “acceptance of the task to the post of prime minister in August 2019 was on the basis of a constitutional document and political consensus between the civilian and military components, which I preached as a unique Sudanese model.”
“But it did not survive with the same degree of commitment and harmony with which it started,” Hamdok said.
CNN’s James Frater and Duarte Mendonça contributed to this report.