Sudan – Political Agreement

On November 21st, 2021, a political agreement was signed between military coup leader, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The agreement reinstates Hamdok as Sudan’s Prime Minister, calls for the release of all political prisoners as well as an investigation on the killings that occurred during the protests and requests all parties to abide by the Juba Peace Agreement. It also calls for a “review” and “restructuring” of the Disempowerment, Corruption Control, and Asset Recovery Committee “based on fairness and effectiveness.”

Mostly, it has been welcomed by the international community yet not the same can be said of Sudanese political and civil forces who, according to Dabanga Radio, consider it a false attempt to legitimize the coup.

Among the international community the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States), the European Union, Switzerland and Canada welcomed the agreement, they expressed their solidarity with the people of the Sudan and hoped for a successful transition. They also condemned the violence and human rights violations that have occurred since the military takeover.

The African Union (AU) chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, celebrated the agreement and called on the international community to support it. The United Nations Integrated Mission in Support of the Transitional Phase in Sudan requested “all parties to the political process to join the voices of youth to meet the demands of the people, preserve the meaningful participation of women and advance their hard-earned rights and their role in democratic transformation.” The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) also applauded the decision to return Prime Minister Hamdok, restore civilian rule, and release detained political leaders.

On the other hand, amid the pro-democracy organizations protesting the agreement the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), the coalition group which called for President Omar al-Bashir to be removed from power and nominated Hamdok for Prime Minister in 2019, have refused to recognize the agreement. Its member, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) rejected the agreement calling it treacherous and saying it is “just a false attempt to legitimize the recent coup and the authority of the Military Council, and a political suicide for Abdallah Hamdok.” Although it has not received much news coverage, the need to reform the Disempowerment, Corruption Control and Asset Recovery Committee is likely a key source of concern. The Committee’s work on countering corruption is seen to have been threatening the military’s economic interests and to have been a key factor in motivating the coup. Agreeing to reform the committee may be seen by activists as tantamount to giving up on the fight against corruption.

The news outlet Radio Dabanga also reported that groups that used to be a part of the FFC, such as the National Umma Party, the Sudanese Congress and the Federal Gathering also announced in separate statements that they are not a party to any agreement between the military junta and Hamdok.

The reinstated Prime Minister said he signed the deal in order to prevent further bloodshed as since 25 October at least 39 people have been killed by security forces in anti-coup protests according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. However, the protests have continued. Since Sunday, the streets have filled with citizens rejecting the agreement. As Kholood Khair, managing partner at Insight Strategy Partners put it “The streets have already vowed to keep resisting, so it’s likely that we’ll see more, not fewer, protests. They feel that they have been betrayed multiple times already and that now Hamdok is the latest.” So far 12 Sudanese Ministers have resigned in opposition to the agreement.