An EXCLUSIVE draft agreement with Sudan aims to consolidate the military

  • The scheme bypasses pro-democracy groups that took place after the coup
  • Supported by some parties, former insurgents, tribal leaders -sources
  • Deviates from the power-sharing agreement after the overthrow of Bashir
  • The military is struggling with a collapsing economy, more protests
  • Protesters gather again on the anniversary of Bashir’s ouster

Khartoum, April 6 (Reuters) – Factions linked to the Sudanese military have signed an agreement to form a transitional government that will strengthen control over the army and bypass pro-democracy groups with which it shared power before the October coup, the document said. Reuters and three sources familiar with the deal.

The draft agreement comes with the military under pressure from deteriorating economies and frequent protests that continue despite deadly crackdowns by security forces.

The military takeover has shattered a transition period that has raised hopes in Sudan for decades of autocracy, civil strife and economic isolation after former President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in a 2019 uprising.

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Three sources from groups supporting the previously unreported draft agreement said it was supported by some military-related political parties, former insurgents who signed the 2020 peace deal, and some tribal and religious leaders.

It was drafted by politicians close to the military, and acceptable to the military, said a fourth, high-ranking source who knows the discussions around the deal.

It includes some steps that the military has already announced are being implemented, such as appointing a technocratic cabinet and parliament to run ahead of next year’s elections, and nominating the judiciary and election commission.

It also elevates the military as Sudan’s highest authority, abruptly moving away from the separation of powers enshrined after Bashir’s overthrow in a Constitutional Declaration that remained a landmark even after the coup.

“The military is the institutional authority and oversight of the transition period and assumes the powers of the Security and Defense Council, similar to the experience of the transition in April 1986,” the document said, referring to a previous interregnum when the military ruled a year before the election.

The military declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Political parties that strongly supported the 2019 uprising and district resistance committees leading the current protests have publicly renounced dialogue with the military, demanding a renunciation of politics.

PROTESTS ARE HELD

Protesters gathered again in the capital Khartoum and other cities on Wednesday, the anniversary of the sit-in, which ended with the overthrow of Bashir.

Three sources said the military is still seeking to expand support for the draft agreement, appealing to Sudan’s two largest traditional parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Uma Party or their factions.

Last week, soldier Abdel Fattah al-Burhan met with the DUP leader during a visit to Cairo. The DUP also held a conference in the Egyptian capital to unite its disparate factions.

Burhan recently said the military would hand over power only after the election, and threatened to expel a United Nations envoy trying to promote a political agreement with the African Union. The ambassadors of the United States, Britain and Norway said Tuesday they had a “sincere and constructive conversation” with Burhan, expressing support for a dialogue leading to a “credible civilian transitional government”.

Western nations have said such a government is a key condition for any resumption of billions of dollars of international economic support to Sudan, suspended after the coup.

The draft agreement states that the political prisoners will be released as a confidence-building measure, which was also given in a short-term deal concluded a month after the coup to return Abdallah Hamdok to the post of prime minister.

Among those currently detained are leaders of the Coalition for Freedom and Change (FFC), which shared power with the military before the coup. They were members of a task force working to dismantle the political, bureaucratic and financial apparatus that ruled Sudan under the iron rule of Bashir.

The agreement provides for a review of the task force, a process that Burhan has already begun. Many people fired by the task force have recently been reinstated by a court in positions in the state media, the foreign ministry, the justice department and other agencies.

In a statement Tuesday, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which spearheaded protests against Bashir, warned that his dissolved National Congress Party (NCP) was resuming meetings and reorganizing.

The military, which said the political struggle necessitated their capture, has repeatedly stated that all groups except the NCP should be able to participate freely in the transition and elections.

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Report by Khalid Abdelaziz, author Nafisa Eltahir and Aidan Lewis, edited by Mark Henry

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