Sudan PM Survives Assassination Attempt, Arrests Made


Several arrests have been made in conjunction with an attempt on the life of the Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok. The event, which authorities are calling  an assassination attempt, underscores a time of instability in Sudan as the nation moves into a civilian-ruled system.

Sudanese state media have reported that Hamdok, who is 64 years old, survived a gunfire and bombing attack that was aimed at his motorcade. The attack took place in the town of Khartoum, and Hamdok was unharmed. The prime minister leads the new, transitional government of Sudan, which first appeared on the scene last April, after a military overthrow of the former governmental structure and a series of pro-democracy demonstrations. 

In a recent Twitter post, Hamdok told followers that he was in “good shape” and that the attempt on his life would be “an additional push to the wheel of change in Sudan.” He recently took over the role of long-standing President Omar al-Bashir. 

According to al Jazeera, the Governor of Khartoum told the press that several of the people suspected to have been involved in the incident have “been attacked,” but provided no further details on the matter. The country’s head prosecutor, Taj al-Ser Ali al-Hebr, told the press that he believes the attack was “professionally plotted,” and that a team of prosecutors have begun a thorough investigation. 

“Terrorist attempts and dismantling the old regime will be dealt with decisively,” announced Sudan’s Information Minister, Falih Salih, adding that authorities hope an investigation will reveal the person or group responsible for the attack. In addition, Sudan’s National Security and Defense Council are enlisting the help of Sudan’s allies (or “friends,” as they said in a press statement), to investigate the assassination attempt. Interior Minister al-Traifi Daffallah Idriss stated that a government council had determined that they would “request the help of [Sudan’s] friends to uncover those involved in the attack and bringing them to justice.” 

The blast struck near Hamdok’s motorcade at around 9:00 A.M. on March 11, close to the Kober bridge, a local landmark. According to a Facebook post by Hamdok’s office director, the prime minister was headed to his office at the time of the attack. Only a security officer was wounded in the blast, and he suffered non-life-threatening conditions. 

“The explosion was very loud and the glass from all four floors broke,” a witness, named Alaa Eldeen Fahmi, told Al Jazeera. “I went out to see and found two cars badly damaged and another which I assumed was the prime minister’s car driving away with a security convoy.”

Following the attack, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) urged those that had protested in the name of democracy, to rally further in support of civilian rule in a time of uncertainty. A statement by the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change (FFC) also urged people to protest and take to the street in order to “show… unity and cohesion … and protect the transitional authority.” A group of protestors rallied, chanting “with our blood and soul, we will sacrifice ourselves for you… this is our homeland and Hamdok is our leader.”

Although Hamdok has received some support, he will likely also suffer pushback for his aforementioned, “wheel of change.” As much as the transition government was born out of a pro-democracy movement, his appointment to the position of prime minister came from a power-sharing deal amongst those responsible for the former president’s downfall and the leaders of the demonstration. In August, following the overthrow of al-Bashir, the two sides signed a three-year power-sharing contract, which led to the formation of a sovereign council made up of 11 members, and the installation of a technocratic government under Hamdok.

Hamdok, a former United Nations official and retired economist, has told Sudanese citizens that he will address their most pressing social and economic issues, as well as attempting to create peace between the many rebel groups within the nation. 

Jonas Horner, a senior analyst for Sudan on the board of the International Crisis Group, told al Jazeera that the attack would “remind both Sudanese and the country’s international backers of the role of the military,” during the transition of the government. “Hamdok and the transitional government could do much more to advance the country’s transition,” he added, referring to the need for legal, economic and state assistance reforms. He said these things were “all badly needed to ensure ordinary Sudanese see the dividends of the protests.” 

Hamdok’s management of the struggle will be important in the coming months, and making the necessary reforms may be essential in taking steps toward peace and equality for Sudan.