GP Insights # 95, 6 July 2019
Sudan’s military council and the pro-democracy council reached a new power-sharing agreement on 5 July 2019, with help from the African Union (AU) and Ethiopia who played roles of mediators. AU mediator Mohamed Hassan Lebatt stated that both sides have agreed to establish a joint military-civilian sovereign council that they would rule on rotation for three years and three months, where the military would be in charge for the first 21 months, then a civilian-run administration would rule for the remaining 18 months. The agreement laid out that five seats would go to the military and five to civilians, with an additional seat given to a civilian agreed who would be selected by both sides.
They have also agreed to have a detailed, transparent, national and independent investigation into violent incidents that the country has witnessed over the past few weeks. The deputy head of the Transitional Military Council, Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said that this agreement would be one that includes everyone; however, the protesters did not have the same response, they stated that they wanted more from the deal and many are still sceptical about the details.
What is the background?
The deal has come after the uprising which had started with a protest against the increasing price of bread, that turned into a movement which led to the ousting of Mr Al-Bashir after 30 years of troubled and brutal rule. Since then, Sudan has witnessed turbulent times with the military taking over and determination of how the transition would take place.
The Military and representatives of the protester met to discuss who would take over control of Sudan last month, however, negotiations failed when a military clampdown took place on the 3 June 2019, leaving many dead. The army then stated that they had rejected all agreements with the opposition and that the elections would be conducted in nine months, but the protesters asserted that a transition period of three years was required to guarantee free and fair elections. When the talks failed, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed flew to Sudan to help mediate a new agreement between the two sides. It was only after a few days of talks that his special envoy, Mahmoud Dirir stated that protest leaders had agreed to suspend their strikes and return to the negotiating with the military.
What does it mean?
With this new deal, it sets the ball rolling for Sudan’s fight for democracy. The provision of the deal that was put down would help in the smooth transition of power from the military to civilians as the first phase of the rotation is given to the military and the second to the civilians, thus enabling them to make a rather easy transition. The deal also goes to imply that the military council is not hesitant to let the people taken control. Their willingness to a deal of this kind only reiterates that they are ready to work with the people.
The regional and international response that the deal has got has been positive, UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash stated that he hoped this next phase would see the foundation of a constitutional system that would strengthen the role of institutions with broad national and popular support, he also went on to say that Abu Dhabi will stand with Khartoum in "good times and bad times”.
Although thousands of protesters took to the street in celebration of this new deal, the reality of the deal rests in the implementation of it by the military, for they now are the ones who control everything in Sudan, thus it important to know how the military would react and act on this. It is no doubt a good step for Sudan in the context the fight for democracy; however, much cannot be said because of the complexities and uncertainty of the situation.
Abigail Miriam Fernandez is pursuing post-graduation in Stella Maris College, Chennai. She can be reached at fernandezabigail123@gmail.