New York (MEE) – Sudan’s first civilian prime minister in three decades has been using a trip to New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly summit as an opportunity to launch a charm offensive and tie up international deals.
Speaking at the UN, Abdalla Hamdok praised the “new Sudan” that has emerged from the months-long protest movement that unseated Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, and forced concessions from the military council that replaced him in April.
Hamdok now heads a civilian cabinet that is part of a transitional government that shares power with the military.
“Our revolution slogan is freedom, peace, and justice. We strive to exactly implement that,” said Hamdok at a UN event on media freedom, where he promised a break from the media censorship and rights abuses of Bashir’s rule.
I attended #UNGA with the aim of sending a message to world leaders that #Sudan, which has been absent from the international congregations for a long time, is back to take its place and occupy its leading role among nations. pic.twitter.com/OKeCpD9zjj
— Abdalla Hamdok (@SudanPMHamdok) September 25, 2019
The former UN economist has utilized his newly opened Twitter account, posting in both Arabic and English, as he met with regional leaders and the heads of international organizations.
He attended as his foreign minister, Asmaa Abdallah, signed an agreement to open a UN human rights office in Sudan.
His government announced earlier in the week that Hamdok plans to ask the World Bank for $2 billion to fund a plan to revive Sudan’s economy, which was ravaged under Bashir and suffers from soaring inflation.
The removal of subsidies caused a tripling in the price of bread, prompting protests in December that quickly transformed into a nationwide uprising.
Hamdok’s government has said it will keep subsidies in place until at least 2020 but plans to reduce military spending, which he said forms 80 percent of the budget.
The Sovereign Council, a body that operates within the transitional government alongside Hamdok’s cabinet, is split between civilian and military members but will be chaired by a general until 2021.
The current chair is the head of the military council that replaced Bashir, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. He is joined by Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, also known as Hemeti, the head of the notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary.
As Sudan's new Prime Minister Hamdok was saying this, an al Hurra TV cameraman was stopped from filming long lines for fuel & bread in the capital.
Unlikely that security forces will buy into the ideals of "the new Sudan." https://t.co/HyIIBNooCW
— Yousra Elbagir (@YousraElbagir) September 26, 2019
The military council and Hemeti’s forces are accused of using deadly force against protesters, including the killing of more than 100 when a sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum was dispersed in June.
Some question whether the military is sincere in upholding its agreement with the protest forces to form the transitional government and there have already been several tests of its response to protests.
Protesters in South Kordofan, a focal point of a decades-long rebellion in Sudan’s south, have been protesting for the past three weeks over the presence of a gold-mining operation that uses dangerous chemicals, which they claim is owned by Hemeti, and against the heavy presence of his RSF fighters.
This post was originally written for and published by Middle East Eye and appears here with permission.