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Sudan celebrates crucial deal but many challenges lie in wait

Sudan celebrates crucial deal but many challenges lie in wait

2019/07/12 | 07:20

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)-











Osama Al Sharif







Almost

four months on from the dramatic toppling of Omar Al-Bashir’s 30-year

autocratic rule of Sudan, the military and a coalition of the country’s

opposition announced earlier this week that they had finally reached a

power-sharing deal. The deal, still to be signed by the two sides, involves

creating an 11-member ruling authority that will take over for a three-year

interim period until elections are held. The authority will be made up of five

members each from the opposition and the military, with a sixth civilian

appointed by agreement between the two sides. An army general will run Sudan

for the first 21 months of the transition, followed by a civilian for the next

18 months. The first step will be to appoint a technocrat government of

experts.The

agreement comes one month after the military crushed a sit-in in front of the

Ministry of Defense that resulted in the death of more than 100 civilians.

While the head of the transitional military council, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah

Al-Burhan, has blamed the violence on a third party, the opposition points the

finger at the commander of the notorious Rapid Support Forces, Mohammed Hamdan

Dagalo, known as “Hemeti.”The

recent deal comes as a result of mediation efforts by the African Union,

supported by the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It was welcomed by what

looks like a majority of the Sudanese people, who expressed hope and

jubilation.But is

it too early to celebrate? There are a number of reasons why the deal may still

fall apart — especially considering the relatively long three-year transitional

period. What happened in Sudan in April was extraordinary: It was both a

popular uprising and a military coup, resulting in a stand-off, a lack of trust

and growing acrimony between the opposition and the military council.One of

the immediate challenges will be to restore trust and good faith between the

two sides. Al-Burhan is expected to be named as head of the new authority for

the first stage, but he is being challenged by Hemeti, whose forces are much

more organized, better equipped and battle-hardened, especially in Darfur.

Hemeti has been vocal in his criticism of the leaders of the Forces of Freedom

and Change (FFC) — the coalition that represents the opposition. And it is no

secret that he has influence inside the transitional military council.Looking

back at the post-independence history of Sudan, there is always the specter of

a military coup led by ambitious generals, who are driven by ideology, a hunger

for power or by outside parties. The transitional military council announced a

few weeks ago that it had foiled a coup attempt that led to a number of

arrests. With the military taking over the authority for the first two years of

the interim period, the fear that it will resist giving up power is genuine.Another

challenge has to do with the FFC itself, whose long-term unity remains

questionable. There are conflicting reports that one member of the coalition,

Nida’a Al-Sudan, has voiced opposition to the deal and may withdraw from the

FFC. Certainly, when we approach the end of the three-year interim period,

there will be heated debates about the type of civilian government that will

eventually take shape and the role of political parties, the judiciary, the

media and civil society in the democratic process.Regardless

of the recently reached deal, the new authority will have to negotiate with a

number of separatists and armed rebel forces, especially in Darfur. Only two of

at least five rebel militias have joined the FFC, while the others want to

negotiate directly with the military or are vowing to fight the central

government.Meanwhile,

even if the new ruling authority overcomes the above challenges, it will have

to work to dismantle the so-called deep state that was created under Bashir’s

three-decade rule; chief among them being the National Congress Party. While

the party has lost its popular base and is blamed for the country’s failures,

prominent members remain powerful and influential and will do their utmost to

derail Sudan’s fresh march toward democracy.And,

finally, there is the most immediate challenge, which is the failing economy

that triggered the popular uprising in the first place. Here Sudan needs the

support of its neighbors and other nations that have a stake in the country’s

stability. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have stepped forward to support Sudan’s

ailing treasury and the US has given signs it will soon lift economic

sanctions. These are all important gestures but, for them to work, the

opposition and the army must respect the spirit of the deal and find ways to

maintain trust and commitment to its main goals.









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