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Burhan Fluffs His Lines on Sudan’s Return to Civilian Rule

The chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan has pledged to establish civilian rule and complete the political process in the country even as stakeholders deserted talks.

His remarks came after the postponement of the signing of a political agreement to end a crisis in the country, sparking mass demonstrations across the country from political players demanding restoration of civilian rule.

The signatories had failed to reach a consensus regarding the security and military reform process and the integration of armed groups into the Sudanese army.

The civilian Forces of Freedom and Change Alliance (FFC) said in a statement the signing of the final political agreement was delayed due to the resumption of the joint talks between the military regarding the technical aspects of security and military reforms.

“While negotiations between the military have made progress in several areas, an agreement on the latter issue still needs to be finalised,” said the FFC in a statement.

Sudan citizens

Sudanese protesters gather n southern Khartoum on April 6, 2023 for a fast-breaking meal as they demonstrate against the army and paramilitaries. April 6 is a symbolic date for Sudan’s civilian opposition serving as the anniversary of uprisings in 1985 and 2019 that ended up ousting two leaders who had seized power in coups. 

Signing postponed

The signing of the final agreement for the transition from the military government to civilian rule was postponed from April 1 to April 6 to allow the military leaders — Gen al-Burhan and his deputy Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is heading a quasi-militia group, the RSF — to resolve their differences over integrating the RSF into the Sudanese army and the unification of command and units.

Brig-Gen Nabil Abdallah, SAF spokesman, announced that the signing of the final political agreement hinges on the establishment of clear schedules for integrating RSF into the national army.

“We cannot have two armies in the country,” Gen Abdallah said. This put pressure on RSF, a former Janjaweed militia that had been accused of committing atrocities in the western region of Darfur during Omar al-Bashir presidency. Director of the National Centre for Citizenship Mahjoub Hussein said all groups want a professional military.

Sudan civilian protests

Sudanese citizens on February 10, 2022 chant slogans in the south of capital Khartoum during a demonstration calling for return to civilian rule. The country’s signing ceremony scheduled for April 4, 2023 has been pushed back again due to a resumption of talks between FFC and RSF soldiers on April 1 and 6. PHOTO | AFP

Military discipline

While the RSF worries that Al-Burhan will discard the contested elements once they are integrated, Al-Burhan appears to believe that military discipline can allow controlling the elements that were recruited on ideological bases during the former regime.

In the meantime, the civilian signatories to the framework agreement are working with three names for the prime minister: Former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok — who was ousted in the October 2021 coup — the former Finance Niniater Ibrahim El-Badawi and former justice minister Nasr Aldin Abdul Bari.

Still, the final agreement is yet to resolve the key issue of the collegial or individual presidency as different parties present different views. Chapter III on the Transitional Sovereign Authority, the draft agreement put two options: “Transitional Sovereign Council or Head of State”.

Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir

Sudan’s former president Omar al-Bashir. PHOTO | ASHRAF SHAZLY | AFP

Understanding military issues

The military component believes that they can easily settle issues related to the army and military institutions if there is a single man picked with their assent. The Sudanese army even indicated that he should be a former general with a good understanding of military issues.

The two-year transitional government will be chaired by a prime minister chosen by the forces of the revolution. The Cabinet members should not exceed 26 ministers. They will be appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the forces of the revolution. The same for the governors of regions and states.

The members of the chamber, which will control the government, should not be less than 160 and not exceed 300 appointed representatives. The legislative council has the power to impeach the transitional government with a vote of no confidence approved by 80 percent of its members.

Source : Theeastafrican