Who is Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan Leader Ousted in Coup

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Who is Abdalla Hamdok, the Sudanese prime minister detained in a military coup?

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok of Sudan, center, during an emergency cabinet session this month.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok of Sudan, center, during an emergency cabinet session this month.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Oct. 25, 2021Updated 3:09 p.m. ET

Until a military coup in Sudan, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok had the daunting task of trying to liberalize his country and lead it to democracy after three decades of dictatorship, while revitalizing its battered economy and normalizing relations with the world.

On Monday evening, his whereabouts remained unknown.

Mr. Hamdok, 65, an economist by profession, had spent much of his career working in international institutions. But in August 2019, he joined a three-year transitional government that was formed after a revolution that overthrew the dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir and left more than 100 Sudanese dead.

At the outset, the opposition coalition, Force of Freedom and Change, and the army’s Transitional Military Council agreed to govern jointly, laying a groundwork for transition to a fully civilian government and democratic elections in 2022. But in recent weeks, there were numerous signs that the army was unwilling to relinquish power, and expose itself to investigation of abuses during the Bashir regime.

Last year, Mr. Hamdok survived an assassination attempt in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. “We paid a hefty price for this revolution for a better tomorrow and for sustainable peace,” he wrote on Twitter after the attack. “Our revolution should always be guarded by its peacefulness.”

His government repealed Bashir-era laws that placed restrictions on women like what they could study and wear, outlawed female genital mutilation and appointed women to lead five government ministries.

In the days before the coup, Mr. Hamdok was due to travel to Saudi Arabia to attend the Middle East Green Initiative Summit, which is aimed at reducing carbon emissions and began on Monday. But over the weekend, after meeting with military members of the Sovereignty Council that had been running the country, he decided against leaving the country, according to an official from his office who was in hiding and spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

“He realized after that meeting that they were up to no good, that this moment was inevitable,” the official said in a phone interview.

Mr. Hamdok and his wife were removed from their home around 3:30 a.m., the official said. “Only God and the people who took him know where he is,” he said.

Before entering government, Mr. Hamdok had worked for many years for the United Nations, most recently as deputy executive secretary of its Economic Commission for Africa from 2011 to 2018.

He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Khartoum and a doctorate in economic studies from the University of Manchester, in England. During the 1980s, he worked as a senior official for Sudan’s ministry of finance economic planning.

But after Mr. al-Bashir, then an army general, took power in military coup in 1989, Mr. Hamdok mostly worked abroad.

Before joining the U.N., he worked for Deloitte & Touche Management Consultants in Zimbabwe. He also worked as an economist at the African Development Bank in Ivory Coast, and as an adviser at the International Labor Organization.

Mr. Hamdok was also regional director of Africa and the Middle East for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, an intergovernmental organization that supports democratic institutions.

Abdi Latif Dahir contributed reporting.

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