The big news on Sudan is truly big news. On August 17 the opposition pro-democracy coalition, the FDFC (Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change) and the TMC (the ruling military junta or Transitional Military Council) formally signed a declaration that paved the way for creating a generally accepted transitional government. That government was formed August 21 when the head of the TMC, general Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan was sworn in as head of the Sovereign Council. The FDFC nominated economist Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister, per the declaration and Burhan appointed him. Hamdok wasted no time in taking the lead in running the transitional government. He is already seeking sanctions relief from the U.S. and wants the U.S. to remove Sudan from its list of countries sponsoring terrorism. Hamdok takes the position that a “democratic Sudan” threatens no one.
Note: The FDFC is also referred to as the Alliance for Freedom and Change.
August 26, 2019: East African diplomats are expressing concern that South Sudanese president Kiir and opposition leader Machar are once again stepping back from implementing the revised September 2018 peace plan or R-ARCSS (Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan). Diplomats say both men are refusing to meet face to face. According to the peace plan, Machar is supposed to join Kiir’s government later in November and form the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU). The major immediate concern is the failure to merge the rebels with the South Sudanese army. Rebel forces and some SPLA forces were supposed to have moved to cantonment areas by the first week of August. Rebels complain that they are not receiving the logistics support they were promised.
August 25, 2019: Sudan's Red Sea state has declared a state of emergency after battles broke out in Port Sudan between the Bani Amer and Nuba tribesmen, leaving 16 dead. Authorities reported both sides had firearms as well as traditional edged weapons.
August 24, 2019: The legal team defending Sudan’s ex-president Omar al Bashir against corruption charges has asked that he be released on bail. Bashir’s trial began on August 19.
Sudanese prime minister Abdalla Hamdok said his country needs $8 billion in foreign aid over the next two years in order to rebuild its economy. It will need an additional $2 billion to stabilize its weak currency. Hamdok has already begun negotiations with the World Bank and the IMF.
August 23, 2019: In South Sudan, UN investigators have 23 South Sudanese who are directly responsible for atrocities during the civil war. The 23 criminals include key military commanders for both the government and the rebels.
August 22, 2019: In northern South Sudan (Northern Upper Nile State), a new oil field had been discovered. The field is small, with only an estimated 5.3 million barrels of oil. However, it is definitely a commercial discovery. The field is close to the much larger Paloch oilfield.
August 21, 2019: Sudan’s new government has officially come into being. General Burhan, was sworn in as leader of the Sovereign Council. He immediately appointed Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister. The Sovereign Council was formed per the declaration signed August 4. The cabinet is being formed,
August 20, 2019: South Sudanese president Kiir held talks in the capital (Juba) with senior rebel leader Minni Minawi, who commands the SLM-MM (Sudan Liberation Movement), and is also chairman of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, the umbrella coalition of armed Sudanese rebel organizations). The men discussed ways of achieving a comprehensive peace in Sudan. Kiir has told Sudan that South Sudan wants to help Sudan end its civil wars.
At the same time, the various civil conflicts in South Sudan aren’t over. Today senior officers in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeeping force met with South Sudanese rebel commanders in the South Sudan Peoples Defense Forces (SSPDF) and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-IO) to discuss the fragile security situation in South Sudan. Rebel fighters are complaining that the government has failed to move food supplies to rebel cantonment areas. Per the 2018 revised peace agreement, rebel cantonment areas are supposed to be supplied with medicine, food and shelter. The rebels say several cantonment areas lack clean water.
August 19, 2019: Former Sudanese president Bashir was brought into court in the Sudan capital to face trial on corruption charges. A police detective testified that Bashir acknowledges he received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia. The news that Bashir is actually in court has amazed many Sudanese. Their attitude was we will believe it when it happens. Well, it has at least started.
August 17, 2019: In Sudan, the declaration creating the transitional government was formally signed in a public ceremony. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy chief of the TMC, signed for the TMC. Ahmed al Rabie signed on behalf of the FDFC.
August 15, 2019: The U.S. has sanctioned Salah Abdalla Mohamed Salih for war crimes and atrocities. Also known as Salah Gosh, he is the former head of Sudan’s NISS (National Intelligence and Security Services). The sanction forbids Salah Gosh and his family from traveling to the U.S. That is not in and of itself a heavy sanction. However, it personally stigmatizes Salah Gosh. It also signals that the U.S. would like other nations to follow suit.
August 14, 2019: In South Sudan, the Ministry of Health has run a one day long Ebola virus response exercise in the cities of Juba, Nimule and Yei. WHO (World Health Organization), the U.S. CDC (Center for Disease Control) and several other international medical organizations provided South Sudan with assistance. At this point, South Sudan has not had an Ebola case.
In South Sudan, President Kiir met in the capital with the leader of the West Sudan (Darfur) JEM (Justice and Equality Movement) rebels. South Sudan is trying to help restore peace in Sudan and is working with both the TMC and the FDFC.
August 11, 2019: South Sudan has 1.82 million internally displaced persons. Nearly 288,000 South Sudanese are living in refugee camps in Sudan (externally displaced).
August 9, 2019: In South Sudan, CTSAMVM (Ceasefire and Transition Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism) personnel report slow progress in implementing security arrangements for government and rebel forces. This is putting the 2018 peace deal at risk. The CTSAMVM is based in the capital monitors compliance with the peace agreement. The CTSAMVM reported in July that 31 of 33 cantonment area sites (where armed groups assemble for disarmament) were ready for use. However, the rainy season has hit and that assessment may now be out of date (i.e., heavy rains have damaged the camps).
August 7, 2019: In South Sudan, Egypt has two medical aid teams operational. The teams are deployed to help treat Hepatitis C. An estimated 3.7 million people living in the greater Nile Basin area suffer from the disease. The second team deployed as UNICEF began an Ebola virus prevention information campaign in South Sudan, which shares a border with Ebola infected Congo.
August 6, 2019: In northeast South Sudan (Upper Nile state), heavy fighting near the town of Maiwut forced 10,000 people to flee their homes. The CieWau clan fought with an unidentified tribal rival from July 31 to August 5.
August 4, 2019: In Sudan AU (African Union), mediators announced the MTC and FDFC pro-democracy opposition coalition had signed the constitutional declaration. A formal ceremony will take place before the end of the month. The new declaration implements July’s 39 month-long power-sharing agreement. A sovereign council, cabinet and legislative body will be formed. An army general will head the council for 21 months, a civilian will lead it for the next 18. The sovereign council will have 11 members (5 civilians, 5 military members, plus an eleventh member the other members agree upon by consensus). The pro-democracy movement will nominate the prime minister, who will lead the cabinet. According to diplomatic sources, in response to pro-democracy demands, the command structure of Sudan’s most controversial security forces will change. The sovereign Sudanese council and the cabinet will control the NISS. The military high command will take control of the notorious paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
August 3, 2019: The AU announced that negotiations between Sudan’s ruling MTC and the FDFC coalition have been successful. The TMC and FDFC have agreed to what they are calling a constitutional declaration. The declaration will clarify steps to implement the power-sharing deal signed in July.