By Khalid Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s prime minister warned on Tuesday of the risk of chaos and civil war fomented by loyalists of the previous regime as he sought to defend reforms meant to pull the country out of a deep economic crisis and stabilize a political transition.
Abdalla Hamdok made the comments in a televised address days after young men carrying clubs and sticks blocked roads in the capital Khartoum following the removal of fuel subsidies.
Hamdok’s government serves under a fragile military-civilian power-sharing deal struck after a popular uprising spurred the army to overthrow veteran leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
The transition is meant to last until the end of 2023, leading to elections.
“The deterioration of the security situation is mainly linked to fragmentation between components of the revolution, which left a vacuum exploited by its enemies and elements of the former regime,” Hamdok said.
He said that without reform of Sudan’s sprawling security sector, which expanded under Bashir as he fought multiple internal conflicts, Sudan will continue to face internal and external threats.
“These fragmentations can lead us to a situation of chaos and control by gangs and criminal groups, just as it can lead to the spread of conflict among all civilian groups and might lead to civil war.”
Though Sudan has won international praise for economic reforms since Bashir’s fall and has made progress towards debt relief, many Sudanese face food shortages or have struggled to make ends meet as prices have soared over the past year.
Inflation hit 379% in May and electricity or water outages occur daily.
While roadblocks have often been used in protests triggered by economic or political grievances since 2018, a Reuters witness saw more aggression around the barriers set up in recent days.
The state government said police and prosecutors would deal with what it called the gangs involved in blocking the roads, but there appeared to be little police presence on the streets.
(Additional reporting by Alaa Swilam; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Mark Heinrich)