When the winds of democracy swept through Sudan, resulting in the ouster of long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir, what ensued was a thick cloud of uncertainty. And tortures. Abductions, and killings. It was brutal. The power vacuum had been filled by the military, and the democratic movement had been choked.
Choked, but not yet run out of all air. Pro-democracy activists continued to push for change. They continued to push for the military to include civilians in the governance of Sudan. Where the military had been unwilling to share power, they soon found out that something had to give in. And it did.
After months of deliberating and conflict, the military finally yielded to the demands of the democracy activists - to include civilians in the governance of Sudan.
A new Sovereign Council was put in place, acting as the transitional authority while the country waits to hold elections in 3 years' time. The pro-democracy activists argued that the country needs at least 3 years for rebuilding before elections can be conducted. The Sovereign Council has supplanted the Transitional Military Council that immediately took control when al-Bashir was removed unceremoniously from power. It consists of both the top military leaders and the civilians.
Abdalla Hamdok was chosen as the new Prime Minister for Sudan. The Sovereign Council includes six civilians headed by Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, who will lead the council for the first 21 months. After that, the power rotates to a civilian. Although this means that for another 21 months, Sudan is effectively under military control, the opposition hopes that the inclusion of civilian administrators will dilute the power of the military, and thus bring an end to rule by an iron fist.
With Abdalla Hamdok as the Prime Minister, there is a new wave of hope for Sudan's political spaces and more importantly, the economic spaces. He promised to deliver a better Sudan, one characterized by a functional economy, balanced foreign policy, stopping the war and building peace. After years of brutality and economic meltdown, all that Sudan deserves right now is just a change.
“The government’s top priorities are to stop the war, build sustainable peace, address the severe economic crisis and build a balanced foreign policy,” Hamdok told reporters when he was sworn in. And if he manages to deliver on these, not in totality but in significant ways that change the lives of the ordinary man, then that means more hope for survival. And hope leads to excellent enterprising efforts.
Abdalla Hamdok is a respected former official of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. He holds a PhD in economic studies from the University of Manchester. With this background, a lot of trust has been invested in him so that things may change.
Sudan is at a point of hope. This is a chance which must never be missed, nor misused simply for parochial interests that do not lead to a change in the country's fortunes.
Header image credit - Financial Times