Sudan’s struggle to achieve a democratic transition from 30 years of military rule ultimately came to fruition after the Transition Military Council (TMC) signed a power-sharing deal with opposition leaders on August 17, paving the way for Abdalla Hamdok to become the country’s first civilian prime minister.
Hamdok will be a technocrat prime minister as he is an economist by training. He will oversee a cabinet largely shaped by him except for two powerful portfolios — the defence and interior ministries.
Alongside Hamdok and his cabinet, there will be an 11-member Sovereign Council, which comprises six civilians and five soldiers, replacing the TMC.
The TMC took over power on April 11, after nationwide protests compelled the country's ruler of three decades, Omar al Bashir, to resign. As the TMC held negotiations with the Freedom and Change Forces, the umbrella organisation of opposition groups, it has sometimes appeared to reinstate itself into the role of former Bashir regime.
There was a bloody crackdown against defiant protesters on June 3, when more than 120 were reportedly killed by the military forces.
The protests showed no signs of ebbing, however. Meanwhile, talks between the military leaders and opposition began to make some progress, addressing important issues the country faces, including the longevity of the transition period from military rule to democracy, which has now been settled with a three-year limit.
Many commentators have found that the power-sharing deal is largely in favour of a civilian rule since it accepts a civilian majority in the Sovereign Council.
An international figure
Hamdok is a well-known figure, especially among the leaders of the African continent. Many see him as an intelligent man, whom the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) described as "a true Pan-Africanist, a diplomat, a humble man and a brilliant and disciplined mind".
Born in 1956 in Sudan’s central Kordofan province, Hamdok received his MA and PhD degree in economics from the School of Economic Studies at the University of Manchester in the UK.
He also holds a British passport.
During the 1980s, he had served in Sudan’s finance ministry as a senior official.
In the 1990s, he also held senior positions in several powerful international organisations including the International Labour Organisation in Zimbabwe and African Development Bank in the Ivory Coast, garnering critical experience and knowledge about the continent’s economic problems.
From 2003 to 2008, he was the regional director for Africa and the Middle East regions at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
In 2011, he became the deputy secretary of UNECA and had continued to work for the organisation until 2018.
September 2018 marked a crucial intersection in Hamdok’s career as Bashir, who was bogged down in both economic and political problems in Sudan, offered him to be finance minister of the country.
But he refused. Apparently, his rejection along with his powerful resume made him a favourite person for Sudan’s opposition forces as they played hardball with the TMC for the country’s political future.
On Wednesday, after his nomination by the Sovereign Council, Hamdok was sworn in to be the country’s first civilian prime minister after 30 years-long military rule.
"With the right vision, with the right policies, we will be able to address this economic crisis," Hamdok said after taking the oath of office.