Sudan’s Military Agrees to Reinstate Civilian Prime Minister, Mediator Says
NAIROBI, Kenya — Faced with a new wave of streets protests, Sudan’s military has agreed to reinstate the civilian prime minister, who was ousted last month in a coup, and to release political detainees, mediators and news reports said on Sunday.
Any deal could unlock a deadly standoff that has gripped Sudan since the Oct. 25 military takeover, prompting a bloody crackdown that has killed dozens of protesters and threatened to derail the country’s fragile transition to democracy.
But even as reports of a deal emerged on Sunday morning, the main coalition of political and civil society groups forcefully rejected it. And there was still no word from the deposed prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, who was apparently still under house arrest, one of his aides said.
Mr. Hamdok became prime minister in 2019, after protests that forced out Sudan’s longtime dictator, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. He took the post as part of a power-sharing agreement between civilian and military leaders, leading to democratic elections.
Weeks of charged talks between Mr. Hamdok and the army chief, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, negotiations that were backed by United States and Sudanese leaders, have become stuck on debates over whether Mr. Hamdok should be reinstated — and under what terms.
On Sunday, Fadlallah Burma, the head of the Umma party and one of several mediators, told Reuters and other news agencies that a deal had been reached during talks on Saturday night.
Under the deal, Mr. Hamdok would return to his position until elections as early as 2023, and dozens of other civilians detained during the coup would be released, said Mr. Burma, a former army general.
The Sovereign Council, a joint civilian-military ruling body headed by General al-Burhan, will hold an urgent meeting on Sunday before announcing the deal, Reuters reported, citing a source with knowledge of the talks.
But it was unclear when such a meeting might take place, and the Force for Freedom and Change — a coalition of political and civil society groups that led the protests against Mr. al-Bashir in 2019 — came out forcefully against the reported deal.
“There is no negotiation, no partnership and no legitimacy for the coup d’etat,” it said in a statement on social media.
A senior aide to Mr. Hamdok confirmed that he met with General Burhan and Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, the commander of a powerful paramilitary force, on Saturday to discuss a possible settlement of the crisis.
But the aide, who said he communicated with Mr. Hamdok via an intermediary, said there were still disagreements on the terms of a deal, in particular the composition of a transitional government.
There have been several false claims of political deals, usually on the eve of major street demonstrations, noted the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals from the military.
News of the deal came hours before a planned new wave of street demonstrations against the coup. The protests have grown increasingly bloody: On Wednesday, at least 15 people were fatally shot by the security forces in the capital, Khartoum, the country’s largest doctors group said.
As news of the deal filtered out on Sunday, it was unclear if those protests would go ahead.