Update on Hamdok assassination attempt

117

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok survived an assassination attempt targeting his convoy as he headed to work on Monday in Khartoum, officials said.

Hamdok said he was in “good shape” and what happened would be “an additional push to the wheel of change in Sudan”, where he heads a transitional government following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir.

Hamdok’s government is struggling to manage a severe economic crisis that triggered months of protests against Bashir and continued after his downfall in April.

Witnesses told Reuters the attack was near the northern side of the Kober bridge, which crosses the Blue Nile from Khartoum North to the city centre, where Hamdok’s office is located.

The convoy appeared to have been targeted from above, they said. State radio said it was hit by gunfire and a projectile, while state television said it was targeted by a car bomb.

“I saw the explosion and the strike and the strike came from a high building,” a witness said.

Images on regional TV channels and social media showed a convoy including several damaged SUVs and a badly damaged car.

Crowds gathered as police secured the site. A member of Hamdok’s entourage suffered light injuries, a government statement said.

An investigation was launched into who was behind the attack, said Information Minister Faisal Salih. “Terrorist attempts and dismantling the old regime will be dealt with decisively. What happened not only targeted the prime minister himself but the Sudanese revolution as well.”

TENSE TRANSITION

Hamdok leads a government of technocrats under a power-sharing agreement between the military and civilian groups for a transitional period due to last until late 2022.

Relations between civilians and the military are tense and government has encountered resistance trying to implement economic reforms.

Transitional authorities are taking steps to disempower Bashir supporters, including the security services.

In mid-January, armed security agents linked to Bashir fought soldiers in Khartoum, after a dispute linked to severance packages.

Soon after Bashir’s overthrow, authorities said they thwarted coup attempts by military officers.

“The attempted assassination of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is a new episode in a series of coup plots against the revolution,” Khalid Omer, a leading member of the civilian coalition that backed last year’s uprising, said on Twitter.

Hamdok is an economist and former senior UN official well connected with the international community.

Britain’s ambassador to Sudan, Irfan Siddiq, called Monday’s incident “a worrying event” which “reaffirmed the fragile nature of the transition and the vital role played by the PM”.

Thousands of anti-military protesters held demonstrations in recent weeks to support Hamdok and his government.

After Monday’s attack the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded the anti-Bashir movement, called for further rallies to display unity and support for civilian rule. Witnesses said crowds began to gather around midday.