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Sudan’s PM Abdalla Hamdok survives assassination attempt in capital

By: Associate Press

CAIRO — Sudan’s prime minister survived an assassination attempt Monday after an explosion went off near his convoy in the capital of Khartoum, Sudan’s state media said.

Abdalla Hamdok’s office and his family confirmed he was safe following the explosion. Sudanese state TV said Hamdok, a longtime economist, was heading to the Cabinet’s offices when the attack took place, and that he was taken to a “safe place.”

The attack highlighted the fragility of Sudan’s transition to civilian rule, almost a year after pro-democracy protesters forced the military to remove autocratic President Omar al-Bashir from power and replace him with a joint military-civilian government.

However, military generals remain the de facto rulers of the country and have shown little willingness to hand over power to civilians.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, and it was unclear what type of device caused the explosion.

Footage posted online showed two white, Japanese-made SUVs vehicles used by Sudan’s top officials parked on a street, damaged with widows broken. Another vehicle was badly damaged in the blast. Several dozen people were seen in the site of the attack, chanting: “With our blood and soul, we redeem you, Hamdok.”

The protest movement that led the uprising against al-Bashir called the blast a “terrorist attack.” The statement by the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change called on people to take to the streets to “show our unity and cohesion ... and protect the transitional authority.”

After months of negotiations, the military and the pro-democracy movement reached a power-sharing deal in August, at which point Hamdouk took office. The deal established a joint military-civilian, 11-member sovereign council to govern Sudan for the next three years.

Prominent activist Khalid Omar, secretary general of the Sudanese Congress Party, said the attempt on Hamdouk’s life was a “new chapter in the conspiracy against the Sudanese revolution.”

Monday’s blast came less than two months after an armed revolt from within Sudan’s security forces shut down the capital’s airport and left at least two people dead. The tense stand-off between the armed forces and rogue intelligence officers paralyzed street life in several parts of Khartoum, along with another western city.

In 1989, al-Bashir came to power in an Islamist-backed military coup and imposed a strict interpretation of religion on its citizens, limiting personal freedoms. The country was an international pariah for its support of extreme Islamists.

Sudan’s transitional authorities announced in February that they agreed to hand over al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court along with other former officials wanted by the ICC.

Hamdok has confirmed the government will cooperate with the court’s efforts to prosecute those wanted for war crimes and genocide in connection with the Darfur conflict in Sudan in the 2000s.

Sudan’s transitional government has also been under pressure to end wars with rebel groups as it seeks to rehabilitate the country’s battered economy, attract much-needed foreign aid and deliver the democracy it promises.

Nearly a year after al-Bashir’s ouster, the country faces a dire economic crisis. Inflation stands at a staggering 60% and the unemployment rate was 22.1% in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund. The government has said that 30% of Sudan’s young people, who make up more than half of the over 42 million population, are without jobs.

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