A meeting to prepare a draft framework agreement to present to Sudan’s military junta will take place before the end of the week, the spokesperson for the Forces for Freedom and Change-Central Council (FFC-CC), El Wasig El Bereir, told Radio Dabanga in an interview on Thursday.
He said that “a crucial meeting will be held within 72 hours” to discuss the agreement, following the comments of Sudan’s political, civil, and professional forces and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance that signed the Juba Peace Agreement with the Sudanese government in October 2020.
The FFC* said last week that the “imminent” agreement is based on a two-stage political process: the preliminary ‘framework agreement’ and the ‘final agreement’. The framework agreement will likely already be signed within the next 10 days and the final agreement within a month.
El Bereir explained that the military reconfirmed its willingness to move forward with the framework agreement in a meeting with representatives of the FFC-CC on Monday.
His statement came after Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, head of the Sovereignty Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) said that the military has not yet signed any bilateral agreement with any party on Wednesday. He reiterated that “the military institution, including the Rapid Support Forces, will not be neglected”.
Regarding the continued detention of political leaders, including leading member of the FFC and former head of the Empowerment Removal Committee** (ERC) Wajdi Saleh, El Bereir reiterated that it is not possible to sign any kind of agreement before releasing Saleh and other political activists, including resistance committee members.
He also noted that the agreement must ensure freedom of expression and address the issue of restoring trade unions set up by the ousted regime of Al Bashir.
“The proposed agreement fulfils the demands of the Sudanese on the street,” he said, calling on all groups rejecting the agreement “to deal positively with the proposals for current negotiations”.
Yasir Arman, a leading member of the FFC-CC, called for a halt to the current political process. He insisted on creating the right atmosphere, stopping the violence, and releasing political detainees in the country.
In a press conference organised at the Press Centre on Wednesday, he said that it is shameful that the FFC intends to sign a framework agreement without stopping the continued detention of political leaders. The continuation of the violations of the law is a non-positive indicator of the political process, said Arman.
He wondered how a political solution can be achieved considering the continuing violence against demonstrators, and the failure to protect people living in many rural areas in the country.
Mohamed El Faki, member of the Sovereignty Council during the government of Abdallah Hamdok and acting head of the ERC, said at the press conference that the detention of Saleh is purely political and called on his lawyers “to take a clear position”.
Support for agreement
On Tuesday, the SRF announced that it will back the upcoming political agreement, provided that their amendments are included in the draft Constitution Charter prepared by the Sudanese Bar Association in August.
When asked about the possibility of a new civilian government based upon an agreement between the military and the FFC, all 12 people a Dabanga reporter spoke to in Khartoum said they did not mind. They stressed that there should be justice, but that the deteriorating economic situation cannot continue.
“Any government of capable technocrats who could lead the country out of these terrible problems is welcome,” an elementary school teacher said.
At the start of November, Minister of Finance and JEM leader Jibril Ibrahim stressed the importance of forming a civilian government in Sudan as soon as possible to end “the vacuum that the country has experienced during a whole year since the military coup on October 25, 2021.”
Against the agreement
On the other hand, hold-out rebel leader Abdelwahid El Nur is part of a growing group of movements and parties who reject the upcoming agreement between the Forces for Freedom and Change and the military.
Rejecting the framework agreement in a statement last week, Malik Agar, member of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council and head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N Agar) in the Blue Nile region said that “any settlement which does not include the JPA will be rejected and resisted.”
The mainstream Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party also rejected “any political settlement with the putschists led by Abdelfattah El Burhan” in a statement on Saturday
Resistance committees in Khartoum said in a statement on Sunday that any agreement that the FFC-CC makes with those responsible for the coup d’état on October 25 last year means that there will be no retributive justice done for the many victims of the military rulers.
El Fateh Hussein, member of the Khartoum Southern Belt resistance committees, told Radio Dabanga last week that they consider negotiations with the junta “a violation of the demands of the streets to achieve justice and retribution for the blood of the martyrs.” Recently, Sudan has seen multiple demonstrations which reject any political settlement with the junta.
Awatif Abdelrahman, chair of the Darfur Displaced Women, stressed to Radio Dabanga this week the need to reach a comprehensive political agreement that does not exclude any political party, rebel movement, displaced, or refugees.
* The FFC alliance, also known as the mainstream FFC, has been prone to divisions since its formation in early January 2019 by political parties and groups that signed the Declaration for Freedom and Change. The National Umma Party (NUP), the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and the Socialist Arabic Ba’ath Party alliance, which already split because of various issues during the reign of Al Bashir, has now fragmented further due to opposing views and standpoints on talks with the military – which further clouds the current political scene in Sudan. The FFC-CC alliance, currently negotiating with the junta, consists of several (split-off) political parties and new groups such as the SPLM-Democratic Revolutionary Movement (DRM) , chaired by former rebel leader Yasir Arman. The Communist Party of Sudan has never split but did withdraw from the FFC alliance in November 2020.
** The full name of the ERC is the Committee for Dismantling the June 30 1989 Regime, Removal of Empowerment and Corruption, and Recovering Public Funds. It was set up by the government of Abdallah Hamdok at the end of 2019 with the aim to purge Sudan of the remnants of the Al Bashir regime. Empowerment (tamkin) is the term with which the ousted government of Omar Al Bashir supported its affiliates by granting them far-going privileges, including government functions, the setting-up of various companies, and tax exemptions.