Sudan's military says final agreement with main opposition has been reached

Draft seen by 'The National' speaks of reforming the armed forces, placing the RSF under the army's command and convening a national dialogue

Sudan's military ruler Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan participated in three days of talks. AFP
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Sudan's military-led Sovereign Council says an agreement has been reached with opposition groups on ending the country's months-long political crisis.

A statement by the ruling council did not give details of the deal, but a leaked draft seen by The National on Sunday provides for unspecified structural reforms of the armed forces and security and intelligence agencies, a long-standing demand of pro-democracy groups.

It also provides for the powerful Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary to be placed under the army's command, with the head of state as its supreme commander.

Commercial companies owned and run by the military will be placed under the supervision of the Finance Ministry, according to the leaked draft, and the creation of such business ventures will be banned in future — both key demands of the opposition.

The announcement of a final agreement on Saturday came nearly 10 weeks after the military and the main opposition coalition, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), reached a preliminary deal to restore Sudan's democratic transition that was derailed when army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan seized power in October 2021.

The FFC and other major political stakeholders have yet to comment on the announcement.

The December 4 deal provided for the military to quit politics and for a civilian prime minister to be named to steer the country for 24 months until elections are held.

But it left important issues, such as transitional justice and the restructuring of the armed forces and security agencies, to be decided later. Negotiations on these began last month and, according to Saturday's statement, have been successfully concluded.

“There has been an agreement on the final version of a political declaration after a comprehensive discussion carried out in a high patriotic spirit that paid heed to the nation's interests, as well as the success of the democratic transition period,” the council said.

Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy chairman of Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council and commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. AFP

The council said the deal was reached after three days of negotiations involving Gen Al Burhan, his deputy, RSF commander Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, and civilian signatories to the December deal, as well as parties who did not sign the agreement.

Saturday's announcement coincided with the presence in Khartoum of envoys from the US, Britain, France, Norway and Germany, some of Sudan's main backers. They joined delegates from the UN, African Union and the regional IGAD grouping, for talks with senior generals and political stakeholders last week.

Sudanese riot police fire teargas at anti-military protesters in Khartoum on February 8. AFP

An agreement that restores Sudan's democratic transition would mean the resumption of billions of dollars of aid and debt forgiveness suspended by the West and international financial agencies in response to the October 2021 coup.

The military takeover unleashed a wave of street protests in which more than 120 people died and 6,000 were injured; and plunged the country into its deepest economic crisis in living memory.

According to the draft of the agreement, the incoming transitional government will convene a national dialogue with international participation to facilitate transitional justice, which the UN defines as “an approach to systematic or massive violations of human rights that both provides redress to victims and creates or enhances opportunities for the transformation of the political systems, conflicts, and other conditions that may have been at the root of the abuses”.

“An end must be found for the phenomenon of escaping justice or accountability for crimes, genocide and breaches of international human rights laws,” the draft says.

That was an implicit reference to violence against civilians during the civil war in the western Darfur region in the 2000s, the breaking up of a sit-in protest outside the military headquarters in June 2019, and during the protests following the 2021 coup.

The draft also includes a clause on the resumption of the dismantling of the “June regime” — a reference to the 29-year rule of dictator Omar Al Bashir, who was toppled by the military in April 2019 following months of street protests. It also stipulates the “revision” of decrees issued since the 2021 coup that reversed or suspended moves against Al Bashir loyalists.

Updated: February 12, 2023, 2:01 PM