Sudan’s Hamdok government fails first democracy test !

Sudan’s new transitional government has been accused of failing to stop the crackdown on the first protests since its formation.

A man flashes the victory gesture while waving a Sudanese national flag during a mass demonstration near the presidential palace in the capital Khartoum on 12 September 2019 (AFP)

By Mohammed Amin in Khartoum Published date: 16 September 2019 13:05 UTC

Sudan’s new transitional government has come under heavy criticism over police violence against Sudanese demonstrators last week during the first major protests since the signing of a power-sharing deal between civilian and military groups.

Thousands of protesters were met with force by the police when they took to the streets on Thursday to call for an independent judiciary and justice for protesters killed since December, when mass protests first erupted against now deposed dictator Omar al- Bashir.

Activists, human rights organisations and analysts have accused newly appointed prime minister, Abdullah Hamdok, and his recently formed government of failing the first democracy test by not granting the people freedom of assembly and the right to protest.

Demonstrator Wala Mahmoud told Middle East Eye that police forces had used tear gas and batons against protesters to prevent them from holding a sit-in outside the presidential palace in Khartoum, wounding a number of people.

“I saw many elderly people and children suffer from choking and fainting because of the tear gas and the rush of people fleeing,” she said.

Al-Tahir al-Amin, a trader in downtown Khartoum, said he saw police forces chasing the protesters down the streets surrounding the palace, located near the city’s centre.

Amin said he and other traders did not expect to see violence used against protesters this time around after the formation of a civilian government by a sovereign council composed of six civilian members and five military personnel.

“We thought things would be different, so we didn’t close down our shops due to the protests. But we were surprised when we witnessed the same things happen and the police using force against pro-democracy protesters,” he told MEE.

The march, organised by the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA), demanded the quick appointment of a new head of the judiciary and a new public prosecutor, and the formation of an independent committee to investigate security forces blamed for the death of protesters, including 128 people killed as they staged a peaceful sit-in in front of the army headquarters on 3 June.

A Sudanese demonstrator waves his hands as he stands on the hood of a security forces’ vehicle, urging others not to cross the security barrier, during a protest near the presidential palace in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on September 12, 2019, calling for the appointment of a new permanent chief of judiciary and prosecutor general. – Mobilised by Sudan’s protest umbrella the Forces for Freedom and Change, hundreds of protesters rallied near the presidential palace seeking justice for comrades killed in demonstrations that rocked the country since December. More than 250 people have been killed since protests erupted in December, first against now ousted autocrat Omar al-Bashir and later against a military council that deposed him. (Photo by Ebrahim HAMID / AFP)

Freedom of assembly

The SPA condemned the use of violence against peaceful protesters, urging the government to grant the people the right to assemble and protest.

“The right of freedom of expression was granted in the constitutional declaration leading to the transitional period,” it said in a press release.

The Alliance of Democratic lawyers, which will submit a petition against police brutality, also said the violence was a violation of the constitutional declaration signed last month

“It’s the transitional government’s responsibility to ensure that violence is not used against demonstrators and to hold accountable those who carry it out,” a leading member in the alliance, Wael Ali Saeed, said.

Meanwhile, East Africa regional director of Amnesty International, Joan Nyanyuki, said the human rights organisation will keep monitoring the government’s human rights practices.

“The government should provide the platform for the people to protest and express themselves and raise their voices and demands, so use of violence against the protesters is strongly condemned,” she said.

Council dispute

The agreement signed on 17 August between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) stipulates that the prime minister would name a government of 20 ministers, with the exception of the interior and defence ministers, who would be appointed by the council’s military members.

The sovereign council will meanwhile appoint the chief of justice and public prosecutor.

However, Mohammed al-Faki, the spokesman and a civilian member of the sovereign council, said that there are disagreements between the civilian and military council members over both appointments.

Hamdok’s nomination of Nemat Abdullah as head of judiciary and Mohammed al-Hafez as public prosecutor were rejected by the council’s military members. 

“The lack of trust and divergent perspectives and interests between the civilians and the military will keep causing disputes,” political analyst Khaled al-Faki told MEE.

He said the army’s right to appoint the two high-profile ministers was part of a compromise that led to the agreement between both sides.

“This actually puts the interior and defence ministers above the law and above the power of the prime minister,” he said.

Uncertainties ahead

The analyst said neither side is satisfied with the compromise, which may lead to a range of complications linked to human rights abuses, reconciliation, the dissolution of the old state institutions, and the presence of the RSF militias.

“The mediators who oversaw the compromise have a responsibility to help manoeuvre these difficulties before they escalate,” he warned.

Amnesty International secretary general, Kumi Naidoo, said on Friday that the appointment of the minister of interior, attorney general, and the chief justice should not be left to the military because it will be a bad signal to send to the people.

Demonstrators are planning another round of protests on Thursday.

Civilian council member Siddig Touer said on Saturday that the protests were unsuitable during a period of transition.

Touer told local newspapers in Khartoum that “now is the time for work and building the country, and not for organising of marches”.

But activists rejected Touer’s statement and said it has disappointed pro-democracy demonstrators.

“Khartoum’s civilian elites and members of the upper middle class who recently came to power are hardly working and are in alliance with the army to safeguard their interests and have no problem with the use of force against protesters,” youth movement activist Seraj Omar said.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/sudans-hamdok-government-fails-first-democracy-test

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Hamdok arrives in Juba on first foreign trip.

JUBA, 12 September, 2019

New Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok arrives in Juba on 12 September, 2019 (Radio Tamazuj)

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has arrived in South Sudan on his first foreign trip since becoming Prime Minister.

The visit comes as the ruling sovereign council and rebel leaders agreed in Juba on a road map for peace talks in October.

Hamdok was received at Juba airport by South Sudan Vice-President James Wani Igga.

Speaking to reporters upon his arrival, Prime Minister Hamdok said: “I am very delighted to be in my second home, Juba. As I promised earlier that my first visit outside Sudan will be to Juba, we are here today”.

He added,” We are looking for very strategic, very distinguished relations between our two nations… We hope to have a prosperous relationship that will address issues of trade, borders, oil and free movement of our people”.

Hamdok pointed out that he would hold talks with South Sudan government.

For his part, Vice-President James Wani welcomed Sudan’s Prime Minister to Juba. Igga said the government would hold meetings with the visiting Prime Minister to discuss areas of cooperation between the two sisterly countries.

https://radiotamazuj.org/en/news/article/hamdok-arrives-in-juba-on-first-foreign-trip

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Sudan’s Ruling Council, Rebels Sign Peace Talks Roadmap to End War !

Thursday, 12 September, 2019 – 06:00

Salva Kiir , South Sudan’s President. ( Google images)

London – Khartoum, Mustapha Sri, Mohammed Amin Yassin.

Each of Sudan’s ruling council, rebels fighting under the Sudan Revolutionary Front and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement signed on Wednesday a roadmap for peace talks that are expected to begin in October and last about two months.

The roadmap also covered releasing prisoners.

Peace talks will seek to end the ongoing conflict in the country’s Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile states.

Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a member of the sovereign council and head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), signed the deal on behalf of the government.

Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Google images)



South Sudan President Salva Kiir, who signed as a mediator, voiced his hope for all signatories to abide by the roadmap so that it successfully ushers in peace and ends the war in Sudan.

“I do not want you to resume fighting again and I invite you to focus on issues of peace and development in Sudan,” Kiir said in a speech stressing his commitment to work for peace in the African state.

Kiir also urged the Sudanese ruling council to open humanitarian corridors so that aid reaches civilians affected by war in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, and called on the international community to assist Sudan.

Dagalo, for his part, said that the sovereign council will pay the cost of stopping the war, achieving peace, and putting an end to grievances in the different regions of the country. He also voiced his appreciation to rebels working towards achieving peace.

The council, a transitional government, has made peace-making with rebels fighting Khartoum one of its main priorities as it is a key condition for the country’s removal from the United States’ sponsors of terrorism list.

The council took over the reins of government in August after military and civilian parties and protest groups signed a three-year power-sharing deal after months of strife following the removal of long-ruling authoritarian president Omar al-Bashir in April.

South Sudan brought together members of the council and rebel leaders from several areas.

Thousands of people have been killed in Sudan’s civil wars, including the conflict in the western Darfur region, where rebels have been fighting against then-President Bashir’s government since 2003.

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1898751/sudan’s-ruling-council-rebels-sign-peace-talks-roadmap-end-war

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Sudan’s Cabinet sworn in, first swearing-in since al-Bashir’s ouster.

AFRICA/ / 9 September 2019, 09:04am / AP

The new prime minister, Abdallah Hamdok, is still negotiating with the pro-democracy movement over the last two Cabinet posts. Picture: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Cairo — Sudan has sworn in its first Cabinet since the military ousted autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April following mass pro-democracy protests.

The new members include Sudan’s first woman foreign minister, Asmaa Abdalla, and a former World Bank economist as finance minister.

The Cabinet is part of a power-sharing agreement between the military and pro-democracy demonstrators. The agreement was signed following pressure from the United States and its Arab allies, amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite a civil war.

The new prime minister, Abdallah Hamdok, is still negotiating with the pro-democracy movement over the last two Cabinet posts.

The swearing-in took place Sunday before to country’s top judge, as well as Hamdok and Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the sovereign council.

Sudan on Sunday swore in its first Cabinet since the military ousted autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April following mass pro-democracy protests.

The new members include Sudan’s first woman foreign minister, Asmaa Abdalla, along with three other women, in an apparent acknowledgement of Sudanese women’s participation in the uprising.

The Cabinet is part of a power-sharing agreement between the military and pro-democracy demonstrators, which also includes a joint military-civilian sovereign council and a legislative body that is supposed to be formed within three months. The three bodies are to govern Sudan for little more than three years until elections can be held.

The agreement capped months of negotiations that were accompanied by a deadly crackdown by security forces. It was signed following pressure from the United States and its Arab allies amid growing concerns that the political crisis could ignite a civil war.

Eighteen Cabinet ministers were sworn in before the country’s top judge, Babaker Abbas, as well as Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the sovereign council. Hamdok is still negotiating with the pro-democracy movement over the last two ministerial posts to complete his 20-member Cabinet.

Burhan headed a joint ceremonial meeting of the Cabinet and the sovereign council.

The culture and information minister, Faisal Saleh, said at a televised news conference after the meeting that both bodies “share responsibility for achieving the targets … and the whole world is watching” their performance.

Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi, who is a former World Bank economist, said the governing bodies would carry out “urgent measures” in the first 200 days to “restructure the budget, control prices and tackle youth unemployment.”

The transitional administration faces towering challenges, including the dire economic conditions behind the start the protests late last year that eventually led the military to remove al-Bashir.

Al-Bashir, who rose to power in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989, failed to keep the peace in religiously and ethnically diverse Sudan, losing three quarters of the country’s oil wealth when the mainly animist and Christian south seceded in 2011 following a referendum. The loss of oil revenue plunged the economy into a protracted crisis that continues.

Sudan is nearly $60 billion in debt. Hamdok said last month that Sudan needs up to $8 billion in foreign aid in the next two years and an additional $2 billion deposited as reserves to shore up the plunging local currency.

Another top challenge is peace with armed groups. A government delegation planned to travel Monday to South Sudan’s capital, Juba, for talks with rebel leaders, the official SUNA news agency said.

Achieving peace with armed groups is crucial for the government as it would allow a reduction in military spending, which takes up to 80% of the budget, the prime minister has said.

Sudan has been convulsed by rebellions in its far-flung provinces for decades, and while a rebel alliance has joined the pro-democracy coalition, it said last month that it should be represented in the transitional government.

The power-sharing deal calls for the government to reach a peace agreement with the rebels within six months.

The new Foreign Minister of Sudan, Asmaa Abdalla.
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Ex-World Bank official tapped to fix Sudan’s ravaged economy

Fixing economy of Africa’s third-largest country will be a major challenge for Abdalla Hamdok’s government.

by Mohammed Alamin • Bloomberg

Ibrahim Elbadawi has spent at least two decades at the World Bank [Ebrahim Hamid/AFP]

A former World Bank economist was named Sudan’s finance minister, as a transitional government begins its task of rebuilding the country after decades of mismanagement under ousted President Omar al-Bashir.

Ibrahim Elbadawi, who’s worked at the Washington-based lender for at least two decades, was among ministers named Thursday by Sudan’s new premier, Abdalla Hamdok.

The country will also have its first-ever female foreign minister, Asma Abdullah, as part of the three-year administration meant to divide powers between pro-democracy activists and the military that overthrew Bashir in April after months of deadly protests.

Fixing the economy of Africa’s third-largest country, ravaged by corruption, sanctions and one-man rule, will be a major challenge for Hamdok’s government.

It’s inheriting a battered banking sector, annual inflation at over 40% and shortages of everything from fuel to flour and banknotes – a situation that in December sparked the unrest that eventually unseated Bashir.

Hamdok, a former United Nations economist, told Reuters last month that Sudan will need as much as $10 billion in aid to cover its import bills and stabilize the currency.

His government is lobbying the U.S. to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, where it was placed in 1993 after becoming a haven for a time for extremists including Osama bin Laden.

Sanctions lifted

Officials have said the continued designation meant that the lifting of two-decades-old U.S. sanctions in 2017 brought scarce economic benefits for the country already crippled by the loss of three-quarters of its oil reserves on South Sudan’s secession in 2011.

The International Monetary Fund projects the economy will contract 2.3% this year.

A Sudanese court on Saturday accepted corruption charges against Bashir, who’s accused of laundering millions of dollars in foreign currencies.

Bashir told the court he’d received $25 million through his office manager from Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, and the money was used for donations, including for a military hospital and university. The Saudi government’s Center for International Communication didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

Elbadawi first worked for the World Bank 1989, returning in 1999 as the lead economist for a research group on development, according to a copy of his resume posted on the website of the Egypt-based Economic Research Forum. Foreign Minister Abdullah is a former diplomat.

Hamdok also named Adel Ibrahim as energy minister and Al-Turaifi Idris as interior minister.

Link to web article.

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Sudan forms first cabinet since removal of al-Bashir

PM Abdalla Hamdok’s cabinet includes Sudan’s first woman foreign minister and a former World Bank economist.

Hamdok said he wants to end the conflict in Sudan and bring a sustainable peace [Ebrahim Hamid/AFP]

Sudan’s prime minister has announced the formation of the first government since the military removed longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April after widespread street protests.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced the names of 18 ministers in the new Cabinet and said he would name two more at a later stage.

The members include Sudan‘s first woman foreign minister and a former World Bank economist.

“A new stage in Sudan’s history starts today,” Hamdok said at a news conference in the capital, Khartoum. “We are seeking an end to the war and [want to] achieve sustainable peace.”

He said the cabinet would “immediately” go to work on the top challenges facing the transitional administration, which include overhauling the ailing economy and achieving peace with armed groups.

Securing peace would sharply reduce military spending, which takes up as much as 80 percent of the state budget, Hamdok said.

“If we could put an end to this [military spending], it would go to health and education,” he said.

Four women in cabinet

The government was formed as part of a three-year power-sharing deal signed last month between the military, civilian parties and protest groups.

The body was supposed to have been announced late last month but internal negotiations within the pro-democracy movement delayed its formation.

The new government is a key step in transition away from nearly 30 years under al-Bashir’s rule, when Sudan was afflicted by internal conflicts, international isolation and deep economic problems.

However, the months since al-Bashir’s fall have been marked by tension between the powerful security forces and civilian groups that are pushing for democracy, reform and justice for those killed during crackdowns on protests.

The cabinet includes four women, among them Asmaa Abdallah, who will be the country’s first female foreign minister.

It also includes Ibrahim Elbadawi, a former World Bank economist who will serve as finance minister, and Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the civilian coalition that negotiated the transition deal with the military, as a minister of industry and trade.

General Jamal Omar, a member of the Transitional Military Council that took over from al-Bashir, was appointed as defence minister.

Challenges

Among the challenges facing Hamdok’s government are finding billions in funding to cover the country’s bill for importing basic goods like fuel and flour, negotiating Sudan’s removal from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, and slashing military spending.

Security and peacemaking in regions affected by insurgencies under al-Bashir are further challenges. The power-sharing deal calls for the government to reach a peace agreement with an alliance of rebels within six months.

Hamdok said that Sudan is forming a committee to establish a framework for a Peace Commission.

“Armed factions are an integral part of the revolution and the current [political] climate provides a great chance to reach understandings on peace,” he said.

Sudan’s future is seen as pivotal for a region plagued by conflict. Wealthy Gulf states including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia have been vying for influence and have close ties to Sudan’s top military commanders.

The military removed and arrested al-Bashir after 16 weeks of protests triggered by an economic crisis that included sharp inflation and shortages of cash and fuel.

A military council took over and began talks with protest and opposition groups, but negotiations were marred by lethal violence used against ongoing demonstrations.

According to last month’s deal, a sovereign council will preside over the first 21 months before handing over to civilian leadership for another 18 months ahead of elections.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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SUDAN PM UNVEILS FIRST POST-BASHIR CABINET

The announcement had been delayed for days as Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok mulled over the nominees proposed by the movement that led the months-long protests against Bashir and also the generals who ousted him.

Abdalla Hamdok speaks after being sworn in as Sudan's interim prime minister in the capital Khartoum on 21 August 2019. Picture: AFP

AFP | about 3 hours ago

KHARTOUM – Sudan’s new premier Thursday unveiled the first cabinet since veteran leader Omar al-Bashir’s overthrow, a major step in the country’s hard-won transition to civilian rule after decades of authoritarianism.

The announcement had been delayed for days as Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok mulled over the nominees proposed by the movement that led the months-long protests against Bashir and also the generals who ousted him.

The 18-member cabinet includes four women, including the country’s first-ever female foreign affairs minister, Asma Mohamed Abdalla, Hamdok told a news conference according to an AFP correspondent.

“Today we begin a new era,” Hamdok said.

“The top priority of the transition government is to end the war and build sustainable peace.”

Hamdok named Ibrahim Ahmed El-Badawi as minister of finance and economic planning, army Lieutenant General Jamal Omar as defence minister and police Lieutenant General El-Trafi Idris Dafallah as minister of interior.

“Now we have a great chance to achieve peace as we have a suitable environment for that,” Hamdok said.

It was a worsening economic crisis that triggered the fall of Bashir, who was later arrested and is on trial on charges of illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds.

The protests that eventually brought him down were ignited late last year by his government’s decision to triple the price of bread.

The demonstrations swiftly mushroomed into a nationwide protest movement against his three-decade rule, finally leading to his ouster in April.

But the generals who ousted him resisted a swift handover of power to civilians.

In response protesters kept up the pressure against them, leading to a power-sharing deal signed last month between the Forces of Freedom and Change protest movement and the generals.

According to doctors linked to the FFC, more than 250 people have been killed in protest-related violence since December, including at least 127 in early June during a brutal crackdown on a weeks-long protest sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.

GENDER BALANCE

The new cabinet is expected to steer the daily affairs of the country during a transition period of 39 months.

On Tuesday, Hamdok, who built a career in continental and international organisations, most recently as deputy executive secretary of the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, said the delay in forming the cabinet was due to the “gender balance” he had been trying to achieve.

He said he also wanted to ensure that the cabinet represented all the regions of the country.

Last month Sudan swore in a “sovereign council”, a joint civilian-military ruling body that aims to oversee the transition.

The council is the result of the power-sharing deal between the protesters and generals who seized power after the army ousted Bashir.

The deal stipulates a legislative body should be formed within 90 days of its signing.

The legislature should include no more than 300 members, with 201 seats allotted to the FFC.

Hamdok, who was nominated by the protest movement, had previously said he would choose technocrats based on their “competence” to lead Sudan through formidable challenges that also include ending internal conflicts.

Rebel groups from marginalised regions including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan state waged long wars against Bashir’s forces.

Sudan’s power-sharing deal aims to forge peace with armed groups.

Hamdok’s cabinet will also be expected to fight corruption and dismantle the long-entrenched Islamist deep state created under Bashir.

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Sudan’s new leader wants foreign help to sure up finances

Abdallah Hamdok says $10bn in direct aid and foreign currency reserves are needed to help the economy recover after recent political instability.

Sudan’s new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has said his country needs at least $10bn in aid to restructure the country’s economy after months of political turmoil.

Hamdok, who is the country’s first civilian prime minister in 30 years will lead the country through its transitory period.

His appointment came after the Transitional Military Council, which deposed long-time leader Omar al-Bashir, reached a power-sharing agreement with civil society groups on August 17.

The new leader said he would approach the World Bank and IMF, as well as ‘friendly’ states in the coming weeks in order to secure the cash.

“We want to take the Sudanese economy from an economy based on consumption and imports to a productive economy, and stop exporting products such as livestock and agriculture as raw materials,” Hamdok said

An immediate priority will be to sure up the country’s foreign currency reserves. “We are in communication to achieve this,” he added.

While the leader has insisted such funds will come without strings attached, the IMF usually attaches conditions such as fiscal conservatism to its loans.

Kaan Devecioglu of the Association of Researchers on Africa (AFAM) organisation said Sudan risked entering into a debt spiral if it overburdened itself with loans.

“The transfer of resources, which beings in the form of aid, turns into a debt spiral for developing countries,” he said.

Even before the unrest that brought down Bashir, Sudan’s recent history has been replete with wars and political instability, that have seriously impacted its economy.

Muhammed Tandogan vice-President of AFAM told TRT World that Sudan needed to use its resources more efficiently to steady its finances.

“Sudan needs to actively use other resources, for example, it has the capacity to meet 90 percent of its own electricity needs with wind energy,” he said.

“The Sudanese government needs to meet with employers, public, universities and civil society representatives to run the process in line with the economy’s immediate action, medium-term and long-term development programs,” he added.

“In order to ensure equality of opportunity in the market, action plans should be developed to ensure fair sharing of resources to the public.”

Source: TRT World. Link to web article.

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Sudan cabinet delayed as PM Hamdok studies list of nominees.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok received the nominees list on Tuesday and has been mulling the candidates ever since.

Sudan’s hard-won transition to civilian rule has fallen further behind schedule just days after the new prime minister delayed the formation of the first government since veteran leader Omar al-Bashir was removed.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, a seasoned United Nations economist who faces the daunting task of rescuing his country’s moribund economy, was supposed to unveil a cabinet on Wednesday under a post-Bashir plan.

But he is still considering the candidates, causing a knock-on delay to the first meeting between the government and the joint civilian-military ruling body overseeing the transition which was supposed to have been held on Sunday.

Hamdok, who took oath on August 21, received the nominee list from the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) umbrella protest group on Tuesday and has been mulling the candidates since then.

“The FFC was late in submitting the list of nominees to the PM which has ultimately delayed the unveiling of cabinet,” protest leader Amjed Farid told AFP news agency.

Ibrahim al-Amin, another protest leader, said the delay “is entirely the responsibility of the FFC” as there were “differences” within the group over the candidates.

On Sunday, the FFC said it held “deep and constructive discussions” with Hamdok the day before about the candidates of the transitional cabinet.

The premier has not publicly commented on the delay.

Sudan swore in a “sovereign council”, a joint civilian-military ruling body, to guide the country through a three-year transitional period nearly two weeks ago.

It is the result of a power-sharing deal formally signed on August 17 between the FFC and the military generals who seized power after ousting al-Bashir in April.

The deal stipulates a legislative body should be formed within 90 days of its signing.

The legislature should include no more than 300 members, with 201 seats allotted to the FFC.

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok

‘Negative impact’ 

Under the deal, the cabinet should be largely selected by the premier. Only the interior and defence ministers will be chosen by the military members of Sudan’s ruling body.

Amin said the delay in announcing the cabinet would “certainly have a negative impact” by slowing down the transition. 

It is not the first hurdle thrown up in Sudan’s path out of decades of authoritarianism.

The line-up of Sudan’s 11-member sovereign council was held up for two days over differences within the opposition camp, before it was finally revealed on August 21.

Hamdok, who built a career in continental and international organisations, most recently as deputy executive secretary of the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, last week confirmed receiving a list of 49 candidates for 14 ministries.

A source close to the premier told AFP on Sunday that “consultations are still under way for the final list”.

Hamdok, who was nominated by the protest movement, had previously said he would be choosing technocrats based on their “competence” to lead Sudan through formidable challenges that also include ending internal conflicts.

Rebel groups from marginalised regions including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan state waged long wars against Bashir’s forces.

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Sudan’s political trajectory likely to resemble Myanmar’s

By DNYANESH KAMAT

Sudan’s recently concluded power-sharing deal between its military and civilians will likely lead to a Myanmar-style hybrid democracy in the medium term, with institutionalized veto power over key policy areas reserved for the military. This is the best bet for Sudan’s pro-democracy forces to achieve full democracy in the long term.

Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan’s new civilian prime minister, will soon announce his 20-member cabinet, consisting entirely of civilians except for the ministers of defense and interior, who will be appointed by the military. Just as in Myanmar, where the military retains control of the Defense, Interior and Border Affairs ministries, Sudan’s generals have signaled their unwillingness for civilians to pry open the country’s massive defense budget. This will be Hamdok’s first challenge. By some estimates, he will have to reduce the military’s share of the budget, estimated to be at least 50%. Hamdok will have to work around this by instead focusing on persuading the US, European Union and Arab Gulf states to increase their budgetary aid and investment to the country.

Myanmar’s military is guaranteed a quarter of seats in parliament. This gives it an effective veto over government policies that may threaten its interests. Like its counterparts in Sudan, the Myanmar military controls vast swaths of the country’s formal economy through military-affiliated conglomerates, over which the civilian government has no control. It also controls an even higher proportion of the informal economy through trade in gems, timber, jade, gold, rubies and copper in Myanmar’s peripheral areas racked by ethnic insurgencies.

Even though Myanmar’s civilian government has attempted to conclude peace deals with insurgent groups, these efforts have been stymied by the military, which has kept these conflicts frozen and used the limbo period to maintain control over the illicit trade. In some instances, the army has even negotiated side deals with local groups that have allowed it to continue resource extraction while also gaining proxies in these regions to the detriment of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).

Even though Myanmar’s civilian government has attempted to conclude peace deals with insurgent groups, these efforts have been stymied by the military, which has kept these conflicts frozen and used the limbo period to maintain control over the illicit trade

The same pattern may well repeat itself in Sudan, where the military is deeply involved in gold mining and where the country’s peripheral areas are home to ethnic insurgencies that have not signed on to the power-sharing plan. Just as in Myanmar, Sudan’s generals could either keep these conflicts frozen to justify their institutional power and massive budget or buy off rebel groups and create political proxies opposed to pro-democracy forces in Khartoum.

Even though Sudan’s draft constitutional charter for the transitional period explicitly calls for the prosecution of those responsible for war crimes and human-rights abuses since 1989, this is unlikely to be implemented in practice. It is instructive that former president Omar al-Bashir is currently on trial for corruption, not for the far more severe charge of war crimes in Darfur.

The military has also reportedly made it clear that no one from its ranks will be extradited to the International Criminal Court. Similarly, no senior Myanmar general has been prosecuted by the Suu Kyi–led civilian government either for war crimes against the Rohingya minority or for earlier violence against pro-democracy groups. This is all the more unlikely to occur in Sudan, since two members of the hybrid civilian-military Sovereign Council – Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (popularly known as “Hemedti”) – stand accused of war crimes in Darfur.

Moreover, the 50,000-strong Rapid Support Forces, a Hemedti-controlled militia that grew out of the Janjaweed and which stands separate from the regular Sudanese armed forces, is widely blamed for the crackdown in June against pro-democracy activists, which led to the deaths of more than 100 people.

Keeping the military onside as part of a long-term political transition is not necessarily a bad option if the end goal is full democracy. As the experience of political transitions in both Africa and the Middle East has shown, a sufficiently threatened military junta could very well pull the plug on an ongoing political transition.

The long-term goal of Sudan’s democrats should be to achieve democratic consolidation, the creation of independent institutions and the tackling of the country’s enormous economic problems. That the power-sharing deal stipulates a period of three years before new elections can take place should give pro-democracy parties enough time to mobilize and put down roots in Sudanese society, particularly given that Sudan does not have a towering pro-democracy figure in the country.

Eventually, as Suu Kyi’s NLD has done this year by introducing constitutional amendments to chip away at the military’s entrenched privileges, Sudan’s pro-democracy parties can do the same in the future. However, this can only be done, as in Myanmar, once the military is sufficiently convinced that its core interests are not under threat. As unpalatable as it may seem, this will likely entail two things – extending an amnesty for past abuses, and continued autonomy for the military over its functioning.

Over time, as Sudan moves toward full democracy, its generals may even choose to pursue politics in a civilian avatar, as in Indonesia or Nigeria. If there is one lesson that Myanmar’s still tortuous and convoluted path toward democracy holds for Sudan, it is that tough compromises and moderation are the only way forward for the country to achieve full democracy.

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