Sudan's main pro-democracy group declines Egypt's mediation offer

Forces for Freedom and Change says proposed Cairo meeting has been overtaken by developments

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, right, and Sudanese military ruler Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan during a meeting in Cairo last year. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The main pro-democracy coalition in Sudan has declined an invitation to a meeting in Cairo, with other Sudanese stakeholders, aimed at negotiating the application of a preliminary agreement reached last month with the ruling generals.

The influential Forces for Freedom and Change said Egypt's proposed meeting had been overtaken by developments on the ground in Sudan.

Military leaders and some civilian factions, including the FFC, agreed last month on the first of a two-phase political process seeking to end the turmoil Sudan has been plunged into since a 2021 takeover led by army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan.

The deal envisions the military’s withdrawal from politics and naming a civilian prime minister to steer Sudan through a 24-month transition leading to free elections.

The second stage of the deal was tabled last week to iron out details of several key issues. These include reforms of the security apparatus and dismantling remnants of the regime of Omar Al Bashir, who ruled for 29 years before he was removed by the military 2019 following months of street protests.

The FFC was the military’s chief partner in a transitional administration that came to power shortly after Al Bashir’s ouster. It was removed by the military in 2021. Its ongoing negotiations with the military are sponsored by the UN, African Union and a host of Khartoum's traditional backers, including the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

In a statement, the FFC said the preliminary deal it reached with the military has “laid solid foundations for a process owned and led by the Sudanese and represents a breakthrough in restoring the democratic transition derailed by a military coup in October 2021.

Sudan's military leaders, led by Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan,  and some civilian factions signed an agreement last month. AFP

“This is turn makes the Cairo meeting late and effectively overtaken [by events],” it said, claiming that the proposed meeting next month will serve as a forum for “counter-revolutionary forces that hope to undermine popular Sudanese efforts to restore the civilian and democratic path.”

While the accord involving the FFC drew some international acclaim, opponents at home have criticised it as being "exclusionary".

There was no immediate comment from Egypt on the FFC statement issued on Wednesday night.

Abbas Kamel, the Egyptian intelligence chief and a confidante of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, visited Sudan early this month and met Sudanese leaders, including those from the FFC.

Later, Egypt’s ambassador to Sudan, Hany Salah, spoke to reporters in Khartoum about an “Egyptian initiative” to reach a political settlement. Neither he nor Mr Kamel divulged details of the proposal.

Egypt and Sudan are neighbours that share the Nile river and social, cultural and economic ties dating back to ancient times. Egypt technically co-occupied its neighbour with Britain from 1898 until Sudan's independence in 1956.

“We appreciate and value the historical relations between Egypt and Sudan and are aware of their strategic importance,” said the FFC.

“But we also believe that the Egyptian position on political developments in Sudan following the glorious December revolution requires deep revisions."

Updated: January 19, 2023, 12:50 PM