Protests planned as Sudan’s army promises to stick to delayed transition deal

Protests planned as Sudan’s army promises to stick to delayed transition deal
Sudanese protesters chant slogans during a rally marking the third anniversary of a crackdown on mass sit-in outside the army's headquarters in 2019, in Khartoum, Sudan, 03 June 2022. EPA-EFE/ELA YOKES

KHARTOUM, April 6 (Reuters) - The head of Sudan's army said on Thursday he remained committed to a plan for a new transition towards elections, despite disputes over the integration of a paramilitary force that have twice delayed the signing of a final deal.

The agreement, which provides for the formation of a civilian government and is strongly supported by the international community, is meant to end a political vacuum that followed an October 2021 coup.

But the signing was postponed for a second time late on Wednesday as the army and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continued negotiations over what commitments they would make on military restructuring.

The agreement faces opposition from pro-democracy “resistance committees” that reject negotiations with the military and have led anti-military protests since the coup, which derailed a previous political transition. They planned demonstrations on Thursday to mark the fourth anniversary of a 2019 sit-in that led to the overthrow of long-time autocratic ruler Omar al-Bashir.

Images from across the capital showed blocked roads, some with burning tires.

Tensions between the army and RSF have come to the surface in recent weeks over the proposed timeline for integration of the RSF into the military, political and military sources say. The army wants two years, while the RSF says 10 years are required and that restructuring should include internal reform within the army, according to the sources.



Also at issue is the interim leadership of the military. The RSF has suggested that the incoming civilian head of state under the deal be included in a joint council of army and RSF generals.

In a statement commemorating the April 6 sit-in anniversary, army chief and Sovereign Council head General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said he remained committed to the political process and that the delay was needed to “lay solid frameworks that preserve the momentum of the revolution”.

The Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), a coalition of civilian parties that back the deal, blamed the postponement on elements of Bashir’s outlawed National Congress Party, who in recent weeks have made public appearances in Ramadan banquets and other events.

“We know that elements of the deposed regime are actively trying to spoil the political process and sow discord between military institutions,” prominent civilian politician and FFC leader Khalid Omer Yousif told Reuters.

In a statement the FFC said that while they were committed to the talks, “if they are stymied… we will also develop alternative options.”

Tribal leaders who say they feel excluded from the planned deal have threatened to block roads into Khartoum and in eastern Sudan, while rebel groups that supported the coup have warned of “chaos” if it goes ahead.

By Khalid Abdelaziz

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Frances Kerry)


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