On July 17, representatives of Sudan’s protest movement under the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) signed the first part of a power-sharing agreement with the Transitional Military Council (TMC) following the December 2018 uprising that led to the downfall and arrest of dictator Omar al-Bashir. The initial agreement calls for the formation of three transitional institutions:
- Sovereign Council: the body is to be composed of 5 civilians, 5 military personnel, and an 11th member agreed upon by both sides. A military general will be president of the council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18 months ahead of general elections.
- Council of Ministers: this will be a 20-member cabinet nominated by the FFC, with the TMC controlling the interior and defense minister portfolios.
- Legislative Council: this is expected to be formed within 90 days of the establishment of the sovereign council, which will serve as the legislative body until its formation; the FMC seeks 67% of its composition but the TMC is applying pressure to revise this formula (see more details here).
Other Points of Note:
- The document does not specify how the institutions will share power and responsibilities, and these specifics will come in a subsequent “constitutional declaration” document at a date yet to be determined.
- The deal does not include “absolute immunity” for the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and ruling generals, which Sudanese medical professionals hold responsible for at least 246 deaths since December 2018. Instead, an independent commission will be established to assess responsibility for the killings, including a massacre on June 3 in which scores were killed at a Khartoum protest site. The FFC’s desire to dissolve the RSF through the legislative council in the future almost certainly will exacerbate the ability of the two sides to cooperate.
Key Questions Moving Forward:
o Is there a practical mechanism to enforce any proposed division of powers between the FFS and TMC, which has not hesitated to use institutional control and monopoly of violence to protect its interests? The TMC already has suspended the 2005 national constitution and ongoing popular protests continue to be met with violence by the RSF.
o Will the ruling generals commit to the transition after 21 months or will they exploit their continued grip on power to delay the transfer of power?
o The agreement provides that “new policies” will be developed in the next 6 months to address grievances from traditionally marginalized regions outside Khartoum. Unsurprisingly, a host of groups outside the main FFC umbrella, including Darfur Blue Nile rebel groups, have expressed varying levels of doubt about the deal as they continue to hold talks with FFC officials and mediators on the margins of negotiations. What level of effort will be put toward addressing the grievances of communities outside Khartoum versus those who can gain international attention in the capital? History is not optimistic in this regard, and it appears the FFC will confine rebel group representation to the legislative council, despite the armed movements’ desire for representation in 35% of all transitional institutions.
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