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Washington urges Sudan to accelerate transition to civilian rule

October 4 - 2021 WASHINGTON DC / KHARTOUM
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo meets with PM Abdallah Hamdok in Khartoum, August 2020 (SUNA).
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo meets with PM Abdallah Hamdok in Khartoum, August 2020 (SUNA).

The USA has called on the parties to the government in Sudan to reach a consensus on the date of transferring the presidency of the Sovereignty Council to civilians. More delay may hamper major US support. The head of the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance considers the polarisation between the military and civilian components of the government “a major setback for the transitional period”.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Saturday that Washington’s support for Sudan, including political, economic and military assistance, depends on the country’s commitment to a civilian-led transition.

Price referred to the statements of Jeffrey Feltman, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, who paid a two-day visit to Sudan last week. At the end of the visit, Feltman stressed the need to develop a new vision for Sudanese national security to guide the security sector reform agenda under civilian authority, while recognising the integrated role of the armed forces in a democratic Sudan.

The envoy also called on all parties to shoulder their responsibilities at this historic moment and avoid brinkmanship and mutual accusations. The envoy stressed the need for the Sovereignty Council “to act as a collective body in performing the tasks entrusted to it in the Constitutional Document”, agreed on by the military, activists and politicians in August 2019, and called for the establishment of the Legislative Council.

'Deviation from the implementation of the Constitutional Document and the Juba Peace Agreement will jeopardize Washington's relations with Sudan'  -  Jeffrey Feltman, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa

Price stated that the US envoy, in his meetings with Sudanese officials, warned that “deviation from the implementation of the Constitutional Document and the Juba Peace Agreement would jeopardize Washington's relations with Sudan, including significant US assistance, as well as prospects for security cooperation to modernize the Sudanese armed forces and U.S. support in the International Financial Institutions and for debt relief.”

‘Setback’

In a press statement on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Juba Peace Agreement yesterday, El Hadi Idris, President of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance and member of the Sovereignty Council, said that the polarisation in the country has disrupted the meetings of many sovereign institutions, such as the Sovereignty Council, the Security and Defence Council, the Council of Ministers.

The tensions within the government constitute “a major setback for the transitional period,” Idris stated.

All SRF member groups are keen to continue the partnership until free and fair elections have been held. Though this can only take place after the displaced and refugees have returned home, he emphasised. “Elections cannot be held without the participation of four million Sudanese displaced people and refugees.”

Following the aborted coup attempt on September 21, tensions between Sudanese military and civilian leaders resurfaced. The military accuse the civilian politicians of quarrelling over positions, while civilian members of the government criticise the military for “claiming a monopoly of guardianship over the country and the sole right to lead it through the transitional period”.

In December last year, the US House of Representatives passed the Sudan Democratic Transition, Accountability, and Fiscal Transparency Act - which triggered disagreements within the Sudanese government. The bill supports advocates tightening the monitoring of the Sudanese army and other forces in the country. Moreover, the role of the army in the country’s economic affairs will be challenged.

Earlier in 2020, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Chairman of the Sovereignty Council, was widely criticised after he publicly defended the role of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the Sudanese economy.


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