POWER SHARING

International community welcomes Sudan deal despite domestic opposition

Foreign Affairs minister Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi resigned on Monday, terming the agreement as a setback

In Summary
  • • PM Hamdok and Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Sunday signed a political agreement to allow for the return of civilian rule 
  • • The 14-point deal also provided for the release of all political prisoners detained during the coup and the return to the 2019 constitutional declaration 
Sudanese anti-coup protesters gather amid ongoing protests against last month's widely condemned military takeover, in the capital Khartoum on November 17, 2021.
Sudanese anti-coup protesters gather amid ongoing protests against last month's widely condemned military takeover, in the capital Khartoum on November 17, 2021.
Image: AFP

The international community has welcomed Sudan Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok’s deal with the military that reinstated civilian rule.

Hamdok and Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Sunday signed a political agreement to allow for the return of civilian rule nearly a month after the military coup on October 25.

The 14-point deal, signed at the presidential palace in Khartoum, also provided for the release of all political prisoners detained during the coup, and the return to the 2019 constitutional declaration as the basis for a political transition.

This followed sustained protests by the people of Sudan and international pressure for the return of civilian rule and the release of Hamdok and other detained ministers.

In the new deal, Hamdok returns as the leader of the transitional government, while the Council of Ministers, which was dissolved on October 25, will be restored and the civilian and military leadership will share power.

The constitution will also be amended to outline the partnership between civilians and the military in the transitional government.

The African Union, which had suspended Sudan, welcomed the reinstatement, with commission chairman Moussa Faki saying he was satisfied with the signing of the agreement reached between the President of the Sudanese Supreme Council Al Burhan and Prime Minister Hamdok.

“The chairperson commends this important step towards the return to constitutional order as enshrined in the Khartoum agreements of August 19, 2019, which frame the consensual and democratic transition in Sudan,” Faki said in a statement.

He urged political and social, civil and military actors to implement the deal inclusively and effectively, “in a climate of peace and national reconciliation”.

“The chairperson of the commission calls on the international community to renew its commitment in solidarity with Sudan so that it regains peace and prepares, in a democratic consensus, for regular and free elections, which are the only path to put a definitive end to the institutional turmoil in the country and ensure its sustainable development,” he added.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development also welcomed the agreement, with executive secretary Workneh Gebeyehu congratulating the people of Sudan and facilitators for their efforts towards the deal.

“The Executive Secretary hopes that agreement will lead to the formation of an inclusive government and expressed the readiness of Igad to work with the new government in the implementation of this agreement…” Igad said in a statement.

The United Nations, through the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan, also welcomed the developments but stressed on the need to “protect the constitutional order to safeguard the basic freedoms of political action, freedom of speech, and peaceful assembly”.

UNITAMS said the transition partners will need to urgently address unresolved issues to complete the political transition in an inclusive manner, with respect for human rights and the rule of law.

“We call on all parties to the political process in Sudan to include the voices of the youth to address the demands of the Sudanese people. Women’s meaningful participation and the advancement of their hard-earned rights and role in the democratic transition must be maintained,” it said in a statement.

During his visit to Kenya, US State Secretary Antony Blinken had said the return of a civilian administration was a priority.

Through US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, Blinken on Monday said the agreement to reinstate Hamdok was only a "first step" in restoring Sudan's democratic transition.

"We must continue to see progress, we must continue to see Sudan move back down the democratic path, and that starts with the reinstitution of the Prime Minister, but it certainly doesn't end there," Price said.

The agreement, has, however, been rejected back home.

Reuters on Thursday reported that tens of thousands of Sudanese protested in the streets of Khartoum and other cities, keeping up the pressure on military leaders after they struck the deal.

“Prominent political parties and Sudan's powerful protest movement have opposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok's decision on Sunday to sign the accord with the military, with some calling it a betrayal or saying it provides political cover for the takeover,” Reuters reported.

Foreign Affairs minister Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi resigned on Monday, terming the agreement a setback.

"Our position as the Forces of Freedom and Change coalition is that we oppose the deal and stick to the demands of the people," al-Mahdi said, further accusing Egypt and Israel of supporting the military coup in Sudan.

The FFC coalition has been sharing power with the military before the takeover.

Its former ministers have also cited the violent crackdown on anti-military protests over the past month.

Hamdok, in an interview with CNN, however, said he entered into the agreement to avoid bloodshed and civil war.

“There is no perfect agreement. There is a good agreement, a workable agreement that will allow things to be normalised and allow the country to move forward,” Hamdok said.

“We basically signed this agreement to save the lives of our people, avoid bloodshed and be able to put the country back .. and preserve the achievements that we have made in the last two years,” he added.

At the centre of the tussle between the military and the civilian leadership is control of resources, especially minerals,  which have been under the control of the military and the RSF (Janjaweed militia) for the last 30 years or so.

Led by  Mohammed ‘Hemedti’ Hamdan Daglo, also the vice chair of the Sovereignty Council, the RSF has been accused of killings and atrocities against civilians.

For instance, RSF is accused of massacring pro-democracy demonstrators at a sit-in in Khartoum on June 3, 2019, with human rights groups reporting that 100 people were killed.

A Global Witness leak in December 2019 showed the financial networks involving the RSF and its capture of Sudan’s gold industry.

Gold, iron ore, and base metals are mined in the Hassai Gold Mine, while chromite is extracted from the Ingessana Hills.

Other minerals extracted are gypsum, salt, cement and phosphate, which is found in Mount Kuoun and Mount Lauro in eastern Nuba.

The military and RSF leadership is said not to be keen to hand over the control of the resources to the civilian administration.

 

-Edited by SKanyara