Sudanese PM Hamdok Unharmed In Assassination Attempt, But Danger Remains

Sudan’s interim Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok narrowly escaped death on March 9, when his motorcade emerged unscathed from a blast that took place in the northeastern part of Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

Hamdok was on the road to the cabinet building in central Khartoum from his home in the morning on Monday to attend a cabinet meeting when a booby-trapped vehicle went off. Seconds after the blast, militants opened fire on the car of the interim prime minister, according to Sudanese Information Minister Mohamed Saleh.

Hamdok: Unharmed and Defiant

Photos taken by ordinary Sudanese citizens and posted to social media showed smoke bellowing from the site of the bombing. News of the attempt on the life of the Sudanese premier caused dozens of Sudanese citizens to go out to the streets and chant in support of Hamdok.

The Sudanese premier accused those standing behind the attempt on his life of planning to foil Sudan’s political transition.

“What happened will not stop our march towards change,” Hamdok wrote on Twitter. “On the contrary, it will encourage us to keep moving on the road of the revolution for which the Sudanese people paid with their blood to create a better future and reach sustainable peace.”

Investigation Underway to Catch Culprits

There has been no claim of responsibility for the bombing and the gunfire on the motorcade of the Sudanese interim prime minister. Saleh said Sudanese authorities have started investigating the attack in order to determine those behind it. He added that the Sudanese government would deal decisively with the attempt on the life of the prime minister.

“We are aware that some people want to foil the revolution,” Saleh said. “This revolution will never derail.”

Sudan’s National Security Council convened soon after the attack to discuss the measures that would be taken in the coming period and the ramifications of this attack for Sudan’s security.

Sudan’s Islamists Suspected in Attack

Sudan’s Islamists are the focus of suspicion, including the Islamic Group, a the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan. Sudanese political analyst, al-Jameel al-Fadel, said his country’s Islamists are gritting their teeth in anger as Sudan takes steps to join the international fold yet again.

“The Islamists do not want Sudan to reintegrate into the international community,” al-Fadel said. “It just wants to send a message that Sudan is not secure or stable.”

The Downfall of Omar al-Bashir

The downfall of the Omar al-Bashir regime in Sudan in April of last year brought Islamist rule of the poor but resource-rich African country to an end.

Bashir ruled Sudan for three decades before his downfall. An Islamist himself, the septuagenarian former leader was allied to Islamist forces in his country. He applied Islamic law and worked to impose a strict version of the Islamic religion to all aspects of the life of Sudanese citizens.

Sudan’s Islamists have been trying to return to the political stage, including by inciting ordinary people against the transitional government and Sovereign Council, sometimes using Sudan’s tough economic conditions, and other times using political developments, including a recent meeting between Sovereign Council Head Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Ugandan capital of Entebbe.

Sudan’s Nationwide Crackdown on Islamic Extremists

Sudan’s transitional authorities have launched an all-out crackdown on the Islamists and the loyalists of Bashir’s regime by disbanding Bashir’s formerly ruling National Congress Party and sacking hundreds of civil servants affiliated to the party.

In November last year, the Transitional Sovereign Council and the interim government approved a law that ends the presence of the remnants of the Bashir’s regime on Sudan’s political stage and inside state institutions. The council and the government also purged Sudan’s security establishment, including the intelligence, of the loyalists of the ousted president. They now prepare a plan for restructuring the Sudanese armed forces. Nevertheless, the Islamists will most likely keep trying to return to the political stage, including via violent tactics, analysts said.

“These Islamists always resort to violence when they lose,” al-Fadel said. “They will not easily accept defeat.”