Sudan’s political rivals have blown fresh air into hopes for the presence of a political settlement for their country’s crisis by signing an agreement on the political section of the settlement.
After hours of negotiations, the ruling Military Council, which took over in Sudan following the ousting of longstanding president Omar al-Bashir on April 11, and the Freedom and Change Forces Coalition, the main opposition group in Sudan, signed a power-sharing document in Sudanese capital Khartoum on July 17.
The agreement comes after days of mediation by Ethiopia and the African Union. It stipulates the formation of a sovereign council of 11 members, including five generals, five members of the Freedom and Change Forces Coalition and a civilian. A general will head the council for 21 months and then hand over the command of the council to a civilian who will head the council for 18 months.
The document also stipulates the initiation of a peace process in Sudan and its completion within six months. It calls for taking measures to improve the country’s economic conditions and initiating legal reforms.
Sudan’s political forces will then meet to agree on a mechanism for drafting Sudan’s new constitution as well as a program for reforming state institutions, including the military establishment. The agreement is an important milestone in the struggle for Sudan, one that started immediately after Bashir was forced to leave the office of president following months-long street protests.
The protests erupted against the background of deteriorating living conditions in Sudan, widespread unemployment and commodity price hikes. Nevertheless, the post-Bashir downfall chaos threatened to derail the African state even more and land it in more economic trouble and bloodshed.
Ethiopia and African Union-led negotiations stalled in the past weeks on the formation of the sovereign council, with each of the political rivals wanting to get the command of the council for itself. Ethiopia started its mediation between the country’s rivals in early June, with a visit to Khartoum by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. As a neighbor of Sudan, Ethiopia is directly affected by unrest in the country, but this unrest also threatened to destabilize the whole Horn of Africa.
“This is a great moment for Sudan,” Ethiopian envoy Mohamed al-Dairi said, following the signing of the deal. “The people of Sudan deserve to live this great day.”
The political forces and the Military Council will sign a constitutional document on Friday. The document is expected to bring the political settlement in Sudan to a completion. The settlement will hopefully give post-Bashir authorities the chance to address Sudan’s economic, political and security problems, observers said. Sudan’s economy is on edge, following months of unrest and decades of mismanagement.
The months of protests against Bashir and then against the Military Council also opened the door for major loopholes in Sudan’s security, amid reports of growing crimes and lawlessness. Ibrahim al-Amin, a leader of the Freedom and Change Forces, called for putting aside divisive issues and sticking to what will unite the Sudanese in the future.
“We have to stay away from everything that can draw us apart,” al-Amin said. Deputy Head of the Military Council Mohamed Hemdan Daglo described the signing of the agreement as a “historic” moment for Sudan and its people. “This agreement opens a new chapter of partnership,” Daglo, an influential figure and one of the hawks of the Military Council, said.
He added that the agreement was the result of strenuous efforts. “This is a moment the Sudanese people waited for too long,” Daglo said.