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Sudan’s reinstated premier says government to be independent

Abdalla Hamdok said he foresaw the next government as focusing on rewriting the country's constitution and holding elections on time.

CAIRO (AP) — Sudan's reinstated prime minister said in an interview that aired Monday that he will have the authority to form his own independent government, according to the agreement he signed a day earlier with the country's top generals who overthrew him in a coup last month.

In comments made during an interview with the Al-Jazeera English satellite channel, Abdalla Hamdok said he foresaw the next government as focusing on rewriting the country's constitution and holding elections on time.

On Sunday, Sudan’s deposed prime minister signed a deal that will see him reinstated, almost a month after a military coup put him under house arrest. The agreement envisions an independent, technocratic Cabinet to be led by Hamdok until elections can be held. Even then, it would still remain under military oversight. But Hamdok claimed that he will have the power to make the government appointments.

“This was a key part of the political agreement we signed,” Hamdok said in the interview. “That the prime minister should have the power and the authority to form an independent technocratic government, in complete liberty and without any pressures."

In response to Sunday's deal, thousands of Sudanese took to the streets Sunday to denounce what many called a betrayal of the democratic cause by their former prime minister, who has been the civilian face of the transitional government since it took power after a 2019 popular uprising deposed longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir. The country's leading political opposition parties have said they vehemently refuse the deal with the generals.

Hamdok said on Sunday during the signing of the agreement with the military that his main goal was to stop the ongoing bloodshed of the country’s youth. According to Sudanese doctors, at least 41 people have been killed so far in anti-coup protests.

Sudanese doctors said earlier Monday that security forces have targeted hospitals and blocked injured protesters from treatment since the military seized control of the country last month.

Security forces have stopped ambulances, entered emergency rooms to arrest patients, and fired tear gas inside at least two hospitals in Khartoum since the Oct. 25 coup, according to a report from The Unified Office of Sudanese Doctors, a coalition of medical workers.

The Sudan Doctors Committee, the group that released the new death toll, said that the latest victim was a 16-year-old killed by a gunshot to the head as he was protesting a new power-sharing deal between the military and the country’s deposed prime minister on Sunday. The group tracks protest-related deaths.

There was no immediate response from the country's military or police, who have both been accused by the United Nations' top human rights body of using excess force against the pro-democracy demonstrations.

But on Monday, the country's second-most powerful general awarded an extra month’s salary to all police force members. General Mohamed Dagalo, the commander of the country's large paramilitary known as the Rapid Support Forces, said the police have “faced great pressures in the past period," according to a report on Sudan's state news agency. He said the bonus was for their efforts to maintain stability in the country.

The United States and Western countries have repeatedly called on the coup leaders to allow civilians to protest peacefully.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Hamdok and separately with Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan on Monday, urging ‘’both leaders to work rapidly to put Sudan’s democratic transition back on track,'' State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

Blinken said the leaders should move to implement their Nov. 21 agreement, ‘’including creating a transitional legislative council, judicial structures, electoral institutions, and a constitutional convention,'' according to Price.

Sudanese police officials have in recent days tried to distance themselves from any role in the deaths, saying their forces in the streets are not armed and that protesters have committed violence. They have repeatedly pledged to investigate reports of deaths.

A large number of demonstrators have been killed by gunshots fired by security forces, according to the committee. Families of the recently killed protesters are mourning the dead.

Marwa Salah, whose brother Abu Bakr Salah was shot in the chest during a protest last Wednesday, said that she is determined to keep demonstrating against the military takeover.

“We will either die like them, or we will take what was rightfully theirs,” she told The Associated Press.

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