Sudan talks herald end of military rule, but challenges remain

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(File photo: Jordan News)
sudan

Osama Al Sharif

The writer is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.

The four-day “final phase” round of consultations between the military and civilian powers in Sudan should end with the adoption of a roadmap that delivers a non-partisan civilian government, which will prepare for general elections. Supported by the international community, the consultations, which kicked off this week, will focus on issues related to dismantling the rump regime of Omar Al-Bashir, achieving transitional justice, reforming the military and security apparatus, and dealing with the issue of Eastern Sudan.اضافة اعلان

The consultations come less than a month since the ruling military council signed a framework agreement with the main civilian powers, chief among them is the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC). This agreement was negotiated with the support of the tripartite mechanism of the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and the UN, in addition to Saudi Arabia, the EU, the UAE, the US, the UK, and Egypt.

All of these interlocutors praised the ongoing consultations calling on all involved to speed up forming a civilian government. For the Sudanese, what was more important is the commitment made by the head of the Sovereignty Council, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and his deputy Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, AKA Hemetti, that the military will return to the barracks and will not be involved in politics after handing over the running of the country to a civilian body.

A majority of the Sudanese people support the ongoing process. However, some are against the framework agreement because it collaborated with the military, which overthrew a civilian government last year. Those against the agreement also blame the military for killing hundreds of unarmed civilians who protested against the coup. And the Democratic Block of the FFC is leading the opposition and has threatened to mobilize after severing talks with the central bureau of the FFC.

Still, both the military and the civilian forces must speed up the process of embracing a civilian government so that international aid can resume. Sudan’s economy is in tatters, and the problem in Eastern Sudan is festering.

The Supreme Council for Beja tribal chiefdoms, which is against the Juba Peace Agreement, is now threatening an armed rebellion against Khartoum, calling for a separate negotiating platform for self-determination for the region. They also declared their refusal to participate in a workshop on Eastern Sudan, which the signatories of the framework agreement are aiming to settle the crisis in the region.

Making things worse, some of these tribal heads appear to have joined forces with the Islamists who were associated with the Bashir regime. So, the dismantling of the regime will pose a challenge for both the military and civilian forces.
For the Sudanese, what was more important is the commitment made by the head of the Sovereignty Council, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and his deputy Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, AKA Hemetti, that the military will return to the barracks and will not be involved in politics after handing over the running of the country to a civilian body.
How far should the dismantling go, and would it reach the top brass in the military, including Hemetti, who is head of the notorious paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF)?

The RSF, the successor to the Janjaweed militia, accused of committing atrocities in Darfur, South Kurdofan, and Blue Nile State, is also being blamed for killing anti-coup protestors. And opponents of the framework agreement want transitional justice to exclude no one.

The dilemma facing those negotiating with the military is that they have no other option. The FFC had trusted the military before, only to see it topple the government of Abdalla Hamdok last year.

In the end, the civilian forces will have to renew trust in the military and that it will stay away from politics and allow a civilian government to lead the process of reuniting the country ahead of new legislative elections.

Much is contingent on the outcome of the ongoing consultations, and a roadmap with an effective timeline will have to emerge as soon as possible.

Once a clear road map is adopted, civilian forces must attempt to resume talks with other civilian powers that have rejected the framework agreement. The army has also hinted that all civilian streams must join the agreement. An attempt by the Democratic Block of the FFC to call for demonstrations will only weaken those who want to send the army to the barracks as soon as possible.

A cause for optimism is the fact that the ongoing process is being supported by the international community, the African Union, the UN, the US, and Sudan’s neighbors.

Such commitment to helping this country overcome the challenges it faces is paramount.

The country has suffered under three decades of authoritarian rule, and the sacrifices of the 2018–2019 revolution and what followed must not go to waste.


Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. 


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