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Sudan’s deal a clean slate for Hamdok but lost opportunity for real change: Analysts

The deal signed between Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and General Abdel-Fattah Burhan allows the PM to get rid of a previous government that caused him “headaches” in the past and start anew, but the deal was a lost opportunity to do more than restore the status quo, analysts told Al Arabiya English.

Hamdok signed a political agreement with Burhan on November 21, ending the coup launched by the military on October 25. But analysts question what that deal really means for the future of Sudan.

Here’s what analysts told Al Arabiya English:

A new cabinet

The political agreement allows Hamdok to form an independent cabinet of technocrats, until an election can be held in July 2023.

Analysts find that the deal between Hamdok and Burhan is an opportunity for the PM to clean house in the cabinet and appoint new ministers who would be more cooperative in implementing changes to the government, its policies and projects.

“The infighting of the former civilian government was a headache for Hamdok,” said Theodore Murphy, Director of the Africa Program at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“The coup was a terrible catastrophe but if there is any silver lining to be wrung out of it, I think that Hamdok’s calculus was that it gave him an excuse to disperse of the difficult people in his constituency who were making his life difficult,” Murphy added.

Sudan has suffered from an ailing economy, widespread shortages of essential goods such as fuel, bread and medicine, incredibly high inflation and a society that was hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Implementing reforms to better manage the country under Hamdok has not been very successful and the government’s efforts did not appease the general public.

“I think Hamdok thought [the deal] would improve his situation. The status quo before wasn’t great for Hamdok, because his political constituency, his cabinet, his ministers, there was a lot of infighting, there was a lot of difficulty,” Murphy said.

Hamdok’s office said in a statement last month that the PM denied having any “personal interest” in signing the deal and had stressed in multiple interviews that it was only for “national interest” and to “stop bloodshed”.

Why only Hamdok reinstated?

The reinstatement of Hamdok did not reverse the coup. The military retains overall control and the appointment of a technocratic government further dismisses the political parties and the pro-democracy protesters.

Analysts question why only Hamdok was reinstated from the previous government in the deal with the military.

“The agreement is a deal only between two figures: General Burhan and Hamdok,” Murphy said.

“The fact that he is the only one allowed to make that decision combined with the fact that his democratic constituency, the protest movement, has discarded him, that’s the more worrying part,” Murphy added.

“You don’t have to worry that the military – Burhan – is going to pull a fast one on Hamdok. I think what’s more worrying is what’s the understanding between Hamdok and Burhan.”

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Fellow at Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center believes the deal means the military “successfully asserted their political dominance in terms of setting the pace and direction of the transitional process.”

“Hamdok apparently felt unable to resist this assertion. Maybe he judged the US and EU to be insufficiently committed to forcing the generals to retreat, but in all cases, he made a strategic misjudgment,” Sayigh added.

As for the future of the relationship between civilian leadership and the military in Sudan, Sayigh said: “If Hamdok resigns and moves back into opposition, there is a chance to bring Burhan and his allies under real pressure and salvage the transition”

“But if he doesn’t, or if he continues until he loses all legitimacy and influence and becomes expendable (for the military), then I fear that Sudan’s transitional process will be hijacked by the military who will work towards… a civilian façade government that cedes complete autonomy to the military and leaves it as the most influential political actor and also an economic actor,” he added.

Why are protesters against this deal?

The Sudanese Professionals' Association strongly opposed the deal, accusing Hamdok of “betrayal” and “political suicide”.

The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, an umbrella of many political parties and pro-democracy groups, also objected to any deal made with the military.

The protesters feel “there was a good political opportunity thanks to widespread domestic and international opposition to achieve more than simply restoring the status quo ante,” Sayigh said.

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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