In Sudan FDFC (the opposition democratic coalition) and the TMC (Transitional Military Council) continue to face off at the negotiating table. FDFC protestors keep up the public political pressure as large demonstrations continue in the streets of Sudan’s major cities. FDFC leaders and foreign diplomats are concerned that the crisis will drag on, with the TMC repeatedly promising then reneging. The idea is the TMC would delay in order to fragment the FDFC coalition. There are signs of disagreement. A lot of backroom discussion involves coalition representation in the future government – divvying up power positions – not how the new civilian government would govern. The FDFC is definitely for “security sector reform” in Sudan – which means firm civilian political, financial and judicial control of the military, police and intelligence service. How this would be implemented has yet to be determined.
Yet consider the last four months since April 11, when the TMC arrested and imprisoned former dictator Omar al Bashir. If the TMC’s key leaders intended to impose another military dictatorship it hasn’t succeeded. In fact, there are indications many powerful military officers favor civilian rule. The FDFC coalition is united in its commitment to fair elections and a civilian government in Sudan with broad national political support.
Ethiopia co-sponsored the mediation efforts with the (AU African Union). Many Sudanese are suspicious but media report seeing public celebrations in the capital (Khartoum). The core of the AU agreement is a “rotating joint sovereign executive council” that will rule for approximately 39 months. The council will have five military members and five civilian members. On July 17 the FDFC and TMC reached a power-sharing agreement backed by the AU and Ethiopia. The AU and Ethiopia have been sponsoring the direct talks. The agreement (now called the Declaration or the Addis Ababa Declaration) had a vague road map (transition period) for returning the military to the barracks and ceding power to civilians. However, within 24 hours the FDFC postponed further negotiations as coalition members in the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) objected, for good reason: the agreement failed to address how to end the on-going civil wars in Darfur and Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. The SRF pointed out its guerrillas are still fighting wars with Sudanese security forces. The SRF didn’t state it this way, but it should have: power-sharing ought to include civil peace.
Several times since mid-June members of the coalition have quietly praised the U.S. for continuing to pressure the TMC to negotiate and to fulfill its commitments to the pro-democracy movement. It is public knowledge that senior U.S. diplomats are working with British, Saudi and Emirati (UAE) diplomats as well as the AU and Ethiopia to keep both sides engaged. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have money and cultural power but they also have personal influence with TMC powerbrokers. Two of the TMC’s most powerful officers, Abdel Fattah al Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (aka Hemeti), commanded Sudanese forces deployed in Yemen with the Saudi-led coalition. Ethiopia works closely with the East African IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority for Development). IGAD and the AU publicly favor the FDFC.
The FDFC coalition’s praise for Washington, however, is more than Rumor Intelligence (RUMINT). Sudan’s senior military officers know U.S. economic and political sanctions have damaged Sudan. They also know “targeted” (individual) financial and travel sanctions can personally damage them. In the last few years, the U.S. and its key allies in Europe and Asia have learned to use individual sanctions with instructive effect. (Austin Bay)
July 29, 2019: In central Sudan (North Kordofan state), a demonstration in the state capital and troops opened fire. Four of the five protesters killed were local high school students. This caused a national uproar especially since it happened the day before negotiations between FDFC and TMC. Moreover, the demonstrations were mainly about lack of government services, except for the military, with troops seen more often in the streets.
July 27, 2019: In South Sudan, IGAD is urging the president (Salva Kiir) and the rebel leader (Riek Machar) to meet face to face in order to discuss the peace implementation plan. The most likely place to meet is Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Machar continues to officially remain under house arrest in the Sudan capital. However, on July 21 he made a trip to Ethiopia to meet with UN representatives. The South Sudan civil war is, in large part, a feud between Kiir and Machhar, each representing major tribal coalitions. The civil war is also about tribal politics.
July 26, 2019: FDFC leaders reported that coalition members who criticized the July 17 power-sharing agreement for not addressing all major issues have now agreed to work to implement the deal. The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) strenuously objected to the agreement’s failure to adequately address on-going insurgencies in Sudan. The FDFC leadership convinced the SRF that the deal addresses “the fundamental causes” of the insurgencies in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states and in the Darfur region.
July 27, 2019: A group of Sudan prosecutors reported their investigation indicated that the senior generals in the TMC did not order the deadly June 3 attack on a protest camp in the capital. Their investigation indicates paramilitary security forces (the Rapid Support Forces, RSF) exceeded their orders to disperse the protestors. Senior leaders in the FDFC immediately disputed the prosecutors’ claims. The FDFC takes the position that the TMC’s most senior members ordered security forces to destroy the protest encampment. The camp was located near the capital’s main military headquarters building. According to the FDFC and doctors in the capital, 128 people died in the fiasco. The Sudanese military claims only 61 died. The Sudanese Professionals Association also disputed the prosecutors’ conclusion.
July 26, 2019: South Sudan’s health ministry reported that laboratory tests confirmed the country remains free from the Ebola virus. On July 23 health workers discovered a person with symptoms similar to those caused by Ebola. The lab tests were conducted in the capital, Juba. Congo has reported Ebola cases within 60 kilometers of the South Sudan border. Both countries have deployed health workers to the border area to screen travelers,
July 25, 2019: After investigating accusations made July 23, South Sudanese military officials disputed claims made by the rebel National Salvation Front (NAS). The government accused two factions of the NAS of serious ceasefire violations over the last week. One NAS faction attacked a government position in the south (Central Equatoria state). Earlier in the week (July 23) the NAS had accused the government of attacking another of its positions in the south ((Yei River state). The government said that was wrong. An army recon unit discovered the hideout of one of the rebel factions that had attacked a base in Central Equatoria state. The recon unit forced the rebels to flee. According to the military, there were no casualties on either side. On July 23 the NAS claimed its fighters had killed eight soldiers. The NAS is led by former army general Thomas Cirillo. The government calls Cirillo a renegade and traitor.
In southern Libya, a thousand members of the Sudan RSF (Rapid Support Force) arrived to take over guarding oil facilities for the LNA (Libyan National Army). Apparently, Sudan is sending another 3,000 RSF forces to Libya as part of an effort to support the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia. Sudan has already sent thousands of RSF forces in the fight alongside Saudi troops seeking to put down a Shia rebellion. The Saudis are major financial and diplomatic supporters of Sudan and the new government. While Saudi Arabia was on good terms with deposed Sudan president Basher, the Saudis were aware that Basher had switched his loyalty from Iran to Saudi Arabia because of the money and the fact that the Saudis had better economic and diplomatic relations with Western nations. The Saudis prefer the post-Basher government because it is likely to be less friendly towards “moderate” Islamic groups like the Moslem Brotherhood. Sudan will remain a Moslem nation but the Islamic radicals will less influence. The Saudis are willing to pay for that. The Saudis did admire how Basher, or at least his generals (who now dominate the TMC) got some of the most fanatic (and troublesome) RSF gunmen out of the country by offering them the lucrative (and low risk) mercenary work in Libya and Yemen. Apparently, Saudi “foreign aid” pays for both of these operations.
July 24, 2019: Sudan’s TMC provided more information on the foiled coup attempt by senior officers who intended to return former president Omar al-Bashir and his National Congress Party (NCP) to power. TMC identified general Hashim Abdel Mottalib Ahmed, head of the joint chiefs of staff, and former vice-president general Bakri Hassan Saleh as a key coup conspirators. They are under arrest. National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) officers were also involved as were senior political leaders in the NCP. Former finance minister Al Zubair Ahmed Hassan is also under arrest. Hassan is a senior official in the Islamic Movement Party.
July 23, 2019: The NAS accused the South Sudan army of violating the ceasefire by attacking it forces in the south (Central Equatoria state).
July 20, 2019: Suddenly it is rocky again in the Sudan capital. FDFC announced it has postponed further negotiations with the TMC after members of the alliance objected to elements of the Political Declaration power-sharing agreement the alliance signed July 17 with the TMC. Specifically, the Sudan Revolutionary Front objected to the agreement because it did not address bringing peace to the Darfur region and Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. The SRF represents rebel groups still battling Sudanese security forces.
July 19, 2019: South Sudan’s Joint Defense Board ordered all members of the armed forces and all members to rebel forces to report to military cantonment camps. The deployment is supposed to begin by the end of this month. The movement to cantonment areas is the first step in creating a unified national army. There are about two dozen designated cantonment areas in South Sudan. The September 2018 peace agreement stipulates that the government and rebels will move to cantonment areas to be screened, re-trained and finally organized into a unified military force. The movement to cantonment areas was to occur before May 2019. Negotiators agreed to a six-month extension period in May.
July 18, 2019: In the Sudan capital several thousand demonstrators rallied in Green Square to support democratic political change. Protestors claim they have changed Green Square’s name to Freedom Square.
The Sudan Doctors Committee (a member of the Sudanese Professionals Association) claimed that since anti-government protests began in December 2018 at least 246 people have been killed and another 1,353 injured in the demonstrations or incidents related to the demonstrations. 128 people died on June 3 when security forces dismantled a sit-in camp in the capital. That incident is now being called the 29 Ramadan massacre.
July 17, 2019: The leaders of Sudan's FDFC and the ruling TMC signed a power-sharing agreement today in the capital. The document supposedly outlines a route to a civilian government. However, the devil is in the details. According to FDFC members, a lot of details are yet to be negotiated. The deal calls for elections in three years. A joint civilian-military council will run Sudan during those three years and then for a three month transition period. Eleven people will serve on the council; five civilians, five military and one person chosen by members of the council. A military officer will head the council for 21 months then a civilian will take over for the next 18 months.
July 13, 2019: In Sudan, several “tens of thousands” of protestors demonstrated in cities and towns throughout the country. The demonstrations marked 40 days since the June 3 sit-in camp slaughter in the capital.
July 8, 2019: South Sudan confirmed it has deployed health teams to its border with Congo to screen travelers for Ebola virus. The government is particularly concerned with border posts in the south (Central Equatoria state). Fighting continues in that state and the fighting threatens to disrupt to Ebola virus containment operation.
July 7, 2019: In Sudan, the death toll from the June 30 protest confrontation in the capital continues to rise. On that date, security forces fired live ammunition at protestors and killed seven people. At least 190 other people were injured.
In southern South Sudan’s (Central Equatoria state) violence continues. Within the last 60 days over 30 attacks have occurred. Most of the violent incidents have taken place near the city of Yei and 75,000 people fled their homes to escape the violence.