Sudan’s new prime minister was sworn in Wednesday, ushering in a new phase for the African country that was crippled by four months of mass protests that turned bloody as civil society and the military clashed over the country’s helm.
Abdullah Hamdok, the former deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, was sworn in as prime minister of Sudan’s interim government that will lead the country for the next 39 months until elections are held.
His joint appointment by the civil opposition Forces of Freedom and Change that led the protests and the Sudanese military that dethroned the country’s former dictator president Omar al-Bashir follows the two sides signing an agreement on Aug. 17 to implement a transitional government, which is to be led by a sovereign council of six civilians and five military officers, all of whom but one were also sworn in Wednesday.
Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who led the Transitional Military Government following the deposition of al-Bashir, will lead the sovereign council for the next 21 months before a civilian member is appointed for the remaining 18 leading up to elections.
In his first remarks as Sudan’s 15th prime minister, Hamdok called the civil protest “the greatest revolution” while vowing to pursue peace and fix the economy.
“The Sudanese economy is strong in size and I believe that with the right vision and policies we will be able to address this economic crisis and we will have a reform plan to address the issues of inflations, the provision of fuel and medicine and in the long term we hope to address the issues of productivity,” he said.
He noted that the country’s banking sector was on the precipice of collapse and that there are “many ways” to prevent this from occurring.
He also said that there are Sudanese forces who oppose the agreement, but the current climate is “favorable” for an end to the conflict.
“If we manage it well, we can cross the country to safety,” he said.
He is expected to form his cabinet before Aug. 28 with the first meeting to take place on Sept. 1.
The United States, Britain and Norway congratulated Hamdok on his appointment as a step to creating a civilian-led government for the country.
“At this historic moment, Sudan has a unique opportunity to establish peace within its borders, draft a constitution that enshrines human rights protections and empowers all Sudanese, including women and youth, and create the infrastructure for free and fair elections,” the countries said in a Troika statement. “We encourage all sides to engage in good faith to deliver these goals, in particular urging the armed movements to engage constructively with the new government to achieve peace.”
Sudan had been submerged in protest since December in demand that the country’s 30-year authoritarian leader al-Bashir step down.
Violent clashes in attempts by the military to squelch the protests resulted in scores dead and more injured, inflaming the situation into a general strike and attracting international condemnation.
Since the power-sharing agreement was made to solidify the formation of the interim government, tensions have calmed though worries still persist over the country’s fractured economy and that some of al-Bashir’s closet deputies still remain in the military’s ranks.