Sudan's FFC and RSF post-coup deal on civilian rule delayed again

Thursday April 06 2023
Sudan civilian protests

Sudanese citizens on February 10, 2022 chant slogans in the south of capital Khartoum during a demonstration calling for return to civilian rule. The country's signing ceremony scheduled for April 4, 2023 has been pushed back again due to a resumption of talks between FFC and RSF soldiers on April 1 and 6. PHOTO | AFP


Talks between military factions have further delayed the signing of an agreement to resume Sudan's democratic transition, civilian representatives calling for fresh nationwide protests said on Wednesday.

A coup in October 2021 led by Sudan’s Army Chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan had derailed the transition to civilian-led rule that began following the 2019 ouster of long-ruling Islamist general Omar al-Bashir.

Security reforms are a key point of contention in negotiations held over the past weeks, building on a preliminary accord reached in December to install a civilian government in Sudan.

Read: Sudan eager for civilian rule return by April

The signing ceremony scheduled for Thursday has been pushed back again due to a resumption of talks between soldiers on April 1 and 6, according to a statement by the Sudan’s historic civilian bloc Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC).

They said progress had been made on several points, but one final question remained, after the ceremony was also delayed last week.


Deepening rift

Experts say the sticking point in the proposed reforms is the integration into the regular army of the powerful paramilitary Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Burhan's deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

The two men have been at loggerheads over the timetable for the RSF's integration and analysts have pointed to a deepening rift between them.

The FFC also called for peaceful nationwide protests on Thursday for freedom, peace and justice as well as against the return of the old regime, after several high-ranking officials from the Bashir era found roles in the current administration.

Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir

Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir. PHOTO | ASHRAF SHAZLY | AFP

In anticipation of the demonstrations, the authorities declared April 6 a non-working day. Witnesses said a large military presence was visible on Wednesday in parts of the capital Khartoum and its suburbs, blocking bridges over the River Nile.

April 6 is a symbolic date for Sudan's civilian movement, marking the anniversary of uprisings in 1985 and 2019 that ended up ousting two leaders who had seized power in coups.

The December deal reached after near weekly and deadly protests since the 2021 coup, calls for the military's exit from politics once a civilian government is installed.

The worsening state of Sudan's economy has put pressure on all sides to reach a deal, which is a precondition for the resumption of international aid to the impoverished country.

Created in 2013, the RSF emerged from the ‘Janjaweed’ militia that Bashir unleashed a decade earlier in the western region of Darfur against non-Arab rebels. The militia has since been accused by human rights groups of having committed war crimes.