Sudan's army and pro-democracy coalition reach preliminary deal to end political crisis

Forces for Freedom and Change group and the military-led Sovereign Council say deal will be signed on Monday

Sudan's military ruler Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan. AFP
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Sudan's military and a major pro-democracy coalition said on Friday that they have reached a preliminary deal to end the nation's political crisis.

In separate statements, the military-led Sovereign Council and the Forces for Freedom and Change, FFC, said the “framework” deal on restoring a civilian-led democratic transition will be signed on Monday at the Nile-side Republican Palace in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

The military seized power in Sudan in a coup that toppled a joint military-civilian administration and derailed a delicate democratic transition that began after the 2019 removal of dictator Omar Al Bashir. The FFC was the military's partner in that administration.

Besides halting Sudan's democratic transition, the October 25, 2021, coup also plunged Sudan into a complex political and economic crisis.

It also sparked a wave of street protests demanding an end to military rule. About 120 protesters were killed and more than 6,000 injured at the hands of security forces acting on orders from the military.

Friday's announcement followed months of closed-door negotiations between the ruling generals and representatives of the FFC.

Sudanese security forces fire tear gas at protesters during a demonstration calling for civilian rule in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman. AFP

Both the Sovereign Council and the FFC said the decision to sign the deal followed a meeting earlier on Friday between the group's representatives and military ruler Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, who led last year's coup, and his second in command on the military-led council Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

The meeting, they added, was attended by politicians from several parties as well as representatives of the UN, US, European Union, Britain and Saudi Arabia.

The two statements suggested that the deal was more of a draft road map that is open for discussion with other political forces and will later be fine-tuned and fleshed out.

The statement from the Sovereign Council said it would take only weeks to reach a final accord and constitutional arrangements to serve as a prelude to the creation of a civilian administration that leads the transition until free elections are held.

Generals Al Burhan and Dagalo have repeatedly pledged to step down, hand over power to civilians and leave politics altogether. However, they have also rejected opposition proposals for reforming the military, police and security services.

Gen Al Burhan has for his part also made clear he wanted the military to remain the nation's ultimate source of power, assuming the role of guardian and arbiter, a suggestion rejected by many pro-democracy groups.

Sudanese anti-military demonstrators raise a banner bearing a crossed-out image of Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, who seized power in a coup 13 months ago. AFP

A major pro-democracy group, the neighbourhood-based Resistance Committees, has said it would oppose any deal with the military, insisting that the generals must unconditionally step down and be tried for the killing of protesters and the overthrow of a legitimate government.

It has repeatedly accused the FFC of lusting for power and betraying the goals of the revolution, a reference to the mass 2018-2019 street protests against Al Bashir's rule that ultimately forced the military to act and remove him.

The FFC statement called on “all revolutionary forces” to close ranks and unite to ensure the democratic transition.

Updated: December 03, 2022, 9:20 AM