The Sudanese man tapped to head the country’s transitional government following the overthrow of longtime President Omar al-Bashir said Monday he survived an assassination attempt after his convoy was attacked in the capital city of Khartoum.
“I would like to assure the people of Sudan that I am safe and in good shape,” Abdalla Hamdok tweeted. “Rest assured that what happened today will not stand in the way of our transition, instead it is an additional push to the wheel of change in Sudan.”
The political climate in Sudan, located in east-central Africa, remains unstable following last year’s political transition that led to the ousting of many people in power.
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It remains unclear who carried out the attack against Hamdok, a respected former UN economist who was appointed in August by Sudan’s Sovereign Council, which is made up of six civilians and five military officers. The council — and Hamdok — have been given three years to help the nation transition to civilian rule.
However, Sudan’s generals remain the de facto rulers of the county and have shown little willingness to hand over power to civilians.
A statement from the prime minister’s office said the attackers used explosives and firearms, and that a security officer was lightly wounded. The statement was read by Faisal Saleh, Sudan’s foreign minister and interim government spokesman.
Footage posted online showed two white, Japanese-made SUVs vehicles typically used by Sudan’s top officials parked on a street, damaged with its windows broken. Another vehicle was badly damaged in the blast. Several dozen people were seen at the site of the attack, chanting: “With our blood and soul, we redeem you, Hamdok.”
The protest movement that led the uprising against al-Bashir called the blast a “terrorist attack.” The statement by the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change called on people to take to the streets to “show our unity and cohesion … and protect the transitional authority.”
After months of negotiations, the military and the pro-democracy movement reached a power-sharing deal in August, at which point Hamdouk took office. The deal established a joint military-civilian, 11-member sovereign council to govern Sudan for the next three years.
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Prominent activist Khalid Omar, secretary general of the Sudanese Congress Party, said the attempt on Hamdouk’s life was a “new chapter in the conspiracy against the Sudanese revolution.”
The U.S. Embassy in Sudan tweeted: “We continue to support Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government and stand in solidarity with the Sudanese people.”
Irfan Siddiq, the British ambassador in Khartoum, said the blast “is a deeply worrying event [and] must be investigated fully.” He tweeted that the Sudanese prime minister’s office had confirmed Hamdok and his team “are all fine, with no injuries.”
Monday’s blast came less than two months after an armed revolt from within Sudan’s security forces shut down the capital’s airport and left at least two people dead. The tense stand-off between the armed forces and rogue intelligence officers paralyzed street life in several parts of Khartoum, along with another western city.
In 1989, al-Bashir came to power in an Islamist-backed military coup and imposed a strict interpretation of religion on its citizens, limiting personal freedoms. The country was an international pariah for its support of extreme Islamists.
Sudan’s transitional authorities announced in February they agreed to hand over al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court along with other former officials wanted by the ICC.
Hamdok has confirmed the government will cooperate with the court’s efforts to prosecute those wanted for war crimes and genocide in connection with the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.
Sudan’s transitional government has also been under pressure to end wars with rebel groups as it seeks to rehabilitate the country’s battered economy, attract much-needed foreign aid and deliver the democracy it promises.
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Nearly a year after al-Bashir’s ouster, the country faces a dire economic crisis. Inflation stands at a staggering 60 percent and the unemployment rate was 22.1 percent in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund. The government has said 30 percent of Sudan’s young people, who make up more than half of the over 42 million population, are without jobs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.