The precarious political and security situation in Sudan is still a major Arab, African and international concern.
At the time this article was written, mediations, consultations and negotiations were still ongoing to help the former teams of the civilian-military transitional period reach a new agreement to share power pending new elections.
The African Union (AU), the UN Security Council, the EU and the Arab League have all been engaged with the Sudanese military, urging it to renew its partnership with the former civilian government of former prime minister Abdalla Hamdok.
General Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan, the commander of the Sudanese army, has been the man calling the shots since the grave developments and decisions that the Sudanese military announced at the end of October. These decisions have not been in line with the Sudanese people’s aspirations, as manifested in their overthrow of the former dictatorial regime of former Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir in 2019.
Not only was their popular revolution a repudiation of the military’s political power in Sudan, but it was also a clear commitment to establish a civilian democratic system.
Popular revolutions that have captured international attention as the 2019 revolution did in Sudan are rare. Few revolutions have enjoyed such interest and concern in a sustained way. To find a parallel, we must harken back to the uprisings and revolutions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
A lot of manoeuvring has been taking place in Khartoum since 25 October, and this has not only pitted the military against the people of Sudan but also the Sudanese military against the leading world powers and international and regional organisations. The political messages of the latter could not be clearer and more determined: there must be the restoration of the former partnership between the two main components of the transition in Sudan, the freeing of all those arrested on and after 25 October, respect for the right of peaceful assembly and protest, and the restoration of former prime minister Hamdok to power.
On 3 November, the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the US and the UK released a joint statement on Sudan. The four powers reaffirmed their support for the realisation of the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people. They reiterated their commitment to helping them achieve these aspirations. The statement called for the immediate restoration of the civilian-led transitional government and institutions in Sudan.
The statement did not leave the Sudanese military outside the present political equation in Sudan until elections are held to elect a civilian government, as it called on “all parties” to cooperate and for unity amongst them to carry out the above objectives. It also stressed the commitment of the powers to the Sudanese Constitutional Document of 2019 and the Juba Peace Agreement of 2020. These were referred to as the two “foundations for further dialogue” and the sole mechanism for the restoration of a “genuine civil-military partnership” in Sudan, pending new elections, to help the country reach political stability and economic recovery.
Needless to say, what Sudan needs now are political stability, economic recovery and security. In the quest to achieve these three essential stabilisers for the future stability and territorial integrity of Sudan, the Sudanese military should cooperate, sincerely and transparently, with international efforts to undo the destabilising effects of its decisions on 25 October.
The dire economic situation in Sudan combined with the critical security environment should be enough to push Al-Burhan to undo the regrettable and ill-founded decisions he took in October. It is difficult to imagine how he can deflect international pressures, which are not going to abate, without posing a very serious threat to Sudan.
* The writer is former assistant foreign minister.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 11 November, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly