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Analysis

Sudan Agreement: Challenges Remain Standing Despite Rays of Hope

Wednesday 14 August 2019
Sudan Agreement: Challenges Remain Standing Despite Rays of Hope

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Alwaght- Over the past four months, Sudan was scene to violent developments until the revolutionary groups and the military reached an agreement on a new constitution in early August. The agreement has revived the hope for the country’s movement to free elections for a civilian government after several decades of rule by the military personnel through a coup. However, the Sudanese people and civilian institutions have a long way until they can realize their ideals and hold a free and democratic election.

Sudan developments

The protests against Omar al-Bashir led to his ouster in April 2019. Since then, the pace of developments in the African country has been highly dazzling and unpredictable. Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, the defense minister under al-Bashir, led the military’s power takeover. He resigned from the post 24 hours after al-Bashir was removed, however. He also removed his aide Kamal Abdel Marouf. Even though the military fast moved to the people’s side during the revolution, the people and Forces of Freedom and Change played the key role. The military council initially promised to the protestors a civilian prime minister in a bid to calm the demonstrations. Two weeks later, the military rulers and the political forces at their first meeting agreed on a transitional council. The tensions continued despite that. Regional players like the European Union, African Union, and Ethiopia mediated between the two Sudanese sides who on July 27 officially signed a political agreement on the transitional period. By far, this was the biggest political achievement that gave out rays of hope for a civilian and democratic government.

Constitution agreement

Last week, the new constitutional document was signed by the military council and the coalition of political forces. According to the document, an independent council will be formed to undertake the administration. The transitional period is 39 months, with the first six months dedicated to spreading peace across the country, mainly in disputed regions like Darfur. The new administration will have 11 members, 6 from the military and 7 from the political coalition. Abdel Fatah al-Burhan, a military commander who led the military council after the resignation of Ibn Auf, was appointed the leader of the new administration. The constitutional document, which according to an agreement distributes the power, gives choosing the prime minister to the political forces. The ministers, it decrees, should not be more than 20. The political bloc also will elect 67 percent of the future parliament members. The prime minister is set to be picked on August 20 and will serve 28 months. The document entrusts the administrative council with the right of the declaration of war, state of emergency, and signing international pacts.

Sudan political developments outlook

The main actors of the Sudanese scene are the 23 major parties of the political alliance and the military commanders who are unified under the military council. In addition to these actors, the military personnel loyal to al-Bashir are waiting for a new opportunity and reportedly designed at least two military coups but failed since al-Bashir was ousted.

The main issue the country grapples with at present is nationwide severe poverty, a situation worsened since the south of the country, which is home to 75 percent of the oil reserves, separated to become an independent state in 2011. The economic weakness motivated foreign players, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, to play a major role in the management of the developments by presenting aids to al-Bashir and then the military council.

Al-Burhan, who became the successor to Ibn Auf a day after al-Bashir ouster, is the commander of the Sudanese forces in the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen war. He was invited for Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s meetings held in Mecca on May 31. Upon his return from Saudi Arabia, he attacked the sit-inners and killed a large number of them. According to Al Jazeera news network of Qatar, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, the deputy leader of the military council, in a speech asserted that “we fight along with the UAE and Saudi Arabia as we have the biggest number of troops in the coalition who reach 30,000.”

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi gave aid of $3 billion to the post-revolution Sudan which according to the military rulers is deposited in the central bank of Sudan. This comes while Saudi Arabia seeks to establish a relationship with the military rulers in Sudan like that established with General Khalifa Haftar of Libya, who is currently busy with a push to seize the capital Tripoli from the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord. The only difference is that in Sudan the political forces will hold 67 percent of the seats of the new parliament and can close Riyadh’s hands for such manipulation of their politics. The leaders of the Forces of Freedom and Change are against Sudan’s participation in the anti-Yemeni campaign, which started in March 2015 and killed and wounded thousands and displaced millions.

The makeup of the political alliance is largely various, containing liberal forces, nationalists— like the National Consensus Forces—, leftists, independents, and some Muslim Brotherhood forces. They all are mainly unified around the “no to military rule” vision. But apparently with the change of the balance of power the alliance will change.

Another challenge beside poverty is the Israeli meddling in the country’s home affairs and that is for the significance of the Nile River and Sudan being neighbor to Egypt.

Another challenge is the status of the militias, which is yet to be determined and their leader is al-Burhan’s deputy in the administrative council. The military commanders are not interested to quit the power structure.

Yet another challenge is free election that is set to be held in three years from now. The power changes until the election pose another challenge.

Most importantly, as long as the sources of income and foreign aids are not clear, potential tensions are expected to grow clandestinely under the surface of the current developments.

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Sudan Coup Constitution Transition Miliytray Council

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