One of the highest profile Sudanese politicians detained during an Oct. 25 military coup has been freed a month after he was arrested, the man, Mohamed al-Faki, said on Monday.
Western powers had condemned last month’s takeover and suspended economic assistance to Sudan, which has been trying to recover from a deep economic crisis.
The coup ended a military-civilian transitional partnership, triggering weeks of deadly unrest and demonstrations against the military, which on Nov. 12 reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and promised to free all political detainees.
The army’s reinstatement of Hamdok faces opposition from pro-democracy groups that have demanded full civilian rule since the ousting of autocrat Omar al-Bashir and have been angered by the deaths of dozens of protesters since the Oct. 25 coup.
Faki is the latest of several prominent politicians to be freed following the Nov. 12 agreement, which placed Hamdok at the head of a yet-to-be-formed cabinet of technocrats for a transitional period.
Faki had been part of the civilian coalition that shared power with the military following the toppling of Bashir in 2019. He sat on the joint military-civilian Sovereign Council that served as the country’s head of state, and was leader of a committee tasked with rolling back the Bashir regime.
Another committee leader, Wagdi Salih, remains in detention.
Following the coup, other members of the committee as well as dozens of resistance committee and union activists were arrested. While Hamdok has stated the agreement applies to them as well, it is not yet clear how many have been released.
Faki was among several politicians who engaged in a fierce war of words with the military in the weeks prior to the coup.
Deep divisions between military and civilian leaders are threatening to derail the transition to democracy. They agreed to share power in the aftermath of the 2019 overthrow of long-serving President Omar al-Bashir.
Tensions have grown since a coup attempt attributed to followers of Bashir was foiled in September. The divisions have caused a split in the Forces for Freedom and Change, a coalition of civilian groups that helped get rid of the former president.
Security forces fired tear gas as activists backing the civilian transition burned tires and waved Sudanese flags. Pro-military protesters want the civilian government dissolved. They accuse it of failing to revive the economy as bread shortages increase.
During the protests, a blockade at Port Sudan, in the east, by yet another group, has only exacerbated the situation. Pro-military demonstrators chanted “down with the hunger government” and called for General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the armed forces and Sudan’s joint military-civilian Sovereign Council, to instigate a coup and seize control of the country.
Control of the Sovereign Council is due to transfer to the civilians in the coming months as part of the transition to democracy. Western nations have expressed their support for the civilian government. US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, urged all sides to follow the agreed transition to democratic rule.
Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok unveiled a plan to tackle what he called the country’s “worst and most dangerous” political crisis in its two-year transition.
“I am not neutral or a mediator in this conflict. My clear and firm position is complete alignment to the civilian democratic transition,” he said.
Mr Hamdok was sworn in as prime minister in August 2019 after mass protests saw the military step in and end Bashir’s 30-year-rule in April of that year.
But support for the transitional government has slumped in recent months as economic reforms spearheaded by Mr Hamdok have seen fuel subsidies slashed and inflation soar.
Mr Hamdok has however been reinstated as the Sudanese Prime Minister after being arrested by the leader of the Military council.