National initiatives to defuse political tensions in Sudan

Several initiatives have been launched in Khartoum last week, to defuse tensions between various components of the Sudanese government. The Forces for Freedom and Change, an important partner in the transitional government, is internally divided as well.

Several initiatives have been launched in Khartoum last week, to defuse tensions between various components of the Sudanese government. In response to the conflicts within the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), an important partner in the transitional government, a new coalition of 16 political and armed groups calls for "consensus within the FFC".

A number of civil society leaders have formed mediation committees, including prominent lawyer and human rights defender Nabil Adib, in an attempt to bring the conflicting government parties together again.

The Return to the Platform Committee, set up by Professor Khaled Yaji, has initiated meetings with members of the Sovereignty Council* in the wake of fierce media disputes between military and civilian council members following an aborted coup two weeks ago.

Professor Yaji said in a press statement after meeting with Sovereignty Council member Mohamed El Taayshi yesterday, that the committee consists of national non-partisan figures. “The current phase requires focusing on the requirements of the transitional period instead of deviating from it,” he stated. “The tasks [of the government] are too big to be lost by squabbling and public disputes.”

He explained that the meeting is part of “a series of meetings planned to ensure that the transitional period proceeds in a safe and stable manner”, and emphasised “the need to preserve the gains of the glorious December Revolution, and move forward towards achieving its goals”.

Following an aborted coup attempt two weeks ago, tensions between Sudanese military and civilian leaders resurfaced. The military accused the civilian politicians of squabbling and quarrelling over positions, while civilian members of the government criticised the military leaders for “claiming a monopoly of guardianship over the country and the sole right to lead it through the transitional period”.

In end September, South Sudan, France, and the USA sent envoys to Khartoum to pressure the disputing parties to continue their cooperation during the 39-month transitional period. The head of the UN Integrated Mission to Support the Transition in Sudan (UNITAMS) continued his meetings with the members of the Sovereignty Council.

On Saturday, thousands of people took part in demonstrations in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum and other places in the country yesterday, in support of the democratic transition in the country. The demonstrators called for the establishment of a civilian government.

FFC splits

In addition, the civilian component of the government, led by the FFC, a coalition of progressive political parties and activist groups set up in early January 2019, is plagued by divisions due to internal conflicts over the course of the revolution.

'Four FFC blocs are excluding the other groups that participated with them in the struggle against the former regime' – Minni Minawi and Jibril Ibrahim

The Communist Party of Sudan (CPoS) already withdrew from FFC negotiations with the military in August 2019. The party said at the time it would continue “to struggle with the people in the street until a radical change has been achieved”.

In early November last year, the Khartoum Resistance Committees, the CPoS, and the Sudanese Professionals Association, the driving force behind the December Revolution, all announced their withdrawal from the FFC, saying the FFC was “unfit to lead the formation of Sudan’s transitional Parliament”.

In June this year, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok launched an initiative entitled ‘The National Crisis and Issues of Transition: The Way Forward’, aimed at uniting “all the forces that have interests in revolution and change in order to complete the transition, leading to the establishment of free and fair elections, and ensuring peaceful deliberation”.

However, at least two FFC blocks in the government are reportedly still competing each other over a number of political issues, including the representation in the Legislative council – which still has to be established.

Call for concensus

In response, 16 political and armed groups established a new coalition, SudanTribune reported on Saturday.

The members, including the Sudan Liberation Movement faction under the leadership of Minni Minawi, recently appointed Governor of Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement led by Jibril Ibrahim, who is now Minister of Finance, the Kush Liberation Movement, an SPLM-N faction, and the Democratic Alliance for Social Justice, have signed the new charter.

In their speeches during the signing ceremony of The National Consensus Charter for the Unity of the Forces of Freedom and Change, Minawi and Ibrahim criticised the power monopoly of four FFC blocs, accusing them of “excluding the other groups that participated with them in the struggle against the former regime”.

Of the 26 Sudanese ministries, 18 are currently being presided by the FFC. The rebel signatories of the Juba Peace Agreement hold six ministries, three seats at the Sovereignty Council and the position of Darfur governor. The Sudan Armed Forces lead the Ministries of Defence and Interior Affairs.

FFC leader Ahmed Rabee and Lt Gen Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo hold copies of the
Constitutional Document during the signing ceremony in Khartoum. August 4, 2019 (SUNA)


* The now 14-member Sovereignty Council forms a collective head of state of Sudan, for a 39-month transitional period which is to be followed by general elections.

According to the 2019 Constitutional Document, the Council is composed of five civilians chosen by the FFC, five military representatives, and a civilian selected by agreement between the FFC and the military. The chair for the first 21 months is a military member. In the remaining 18 months, the council  is to be chaired by a civilian member. Following the signing of the JPA in October last year, three seats were added to the Sovereignty Council, for rebel leaders El Hadi Idris, Malik Agar, and El Taher Hajar.

The transitional period originally began in August 2019, with the signing of the Constitutional Document by the then military junta and the FFC. On demand of the members of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance, however, the starting date was changed to October 3, 2020, when the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) was signed by the Sudanese government and the SRF.