Sudan transition at ‘critical juncture’ as power struggle deepens

Pro-civilian leaders in Sudan have called for mass protests on Thursday amid rising tensions between those in charge of steering the country towards elections.

The demonstrations have been called in response to a continuing sit-in staged since last week in front of the presidential palace in the capital, Khartoum, by an alliance of rebel groups and political entities.

These groups used to be part of the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), a loose coalition that was at the helm of the months-long protests that led to the military removal of former President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Under an August 2019 power-sharing deal between the military and the FFC, the country has been run by a Sovereign Council of military and civilian members tasked with overseeing the transition until elections scheduled for 2023, as well as a council of ministers under civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

However, long-simmering tensions within the FFC boiled over in recent weeks, with several groups splintering from the coalition and joining forces to launch a new Charter of National Accord. The members of the breakaway grouping have complained of marginalisation in the transitional period which, they said, is monopolised by the mostly centric and urban political parties that currently comprise the FFC: the Sudanese Congress Party, the Umma Party, the Arab Socialist Baath Party – Region of Sudan and the Federal Gathering.

The splinter faction and their supporters have demanded the dissolution of the government and the formation of a new one led by technocrats. There have also been disagreements with the FFC about the Committee to Dismantle the June 30, 1989 Regime and Retrieve Public Funds, a task force established to recover assets lost to al-Bashir and his associates.

The continuing power struggle was described by Hamdok this week as the “worst and most dangerous crisis” that does not only threaten the political transition but Sudan as a whole.

Hafiz Ismail, a Khartoum-based analyst, said the crisis has been the “result of the shortsightedness in politics, in addition to concentrating on the personal benefits rather than the public benefit”.

He added, “The rebel groups have their own agendas and the selfishness of some of the FFC members who do not care about what will happen; it’s just so bad that we reached to this level.”

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