16 June 2019

Sudan: In Khartoum, Civilian Rule Is Desirable but It Will Be a Long Shot... for Now

Photo: Nation Media Group
Sudanese women wave flags during outside army headquarters in Khartoum.
analysis

By the time Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April, he had lived 10 years with an indictment from the International Criminal Court hanging over his head.

But his ouster seems to have brought more uncertainties to the country's future and the push for democratic governance and regional peace.

Last week, the African Union suspended Khartoum from attending the body's activities, after the Transitional Military Council led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan cracked down on protesters and cancelled earlier plan for elections.

The suspension from the AU was the first sign of international pressure on Khartoum, and although the continental body may lack powers to mete out more punishment, its association with global powers like the UK, US and China may send a signal to the UN Security Council to further isolate Khartoum.

Prof Solomon Dersso, a commissioner with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, a quasi-judicial body that promotes civilian rights said the AU's perceived powerlessness is compensated by its contacts in high places.

"Materially speaking, this removes the basis for engaging with international actors to mobilise and seek financial and other support. The military authorities will receive no support from the AU to enable them to be shielded from international pressure. Once delegitimised, international partners tend to shy away from an isolated government," he argued.

"Sudan is surrounded by failed states such as South Sudan, Central African Republic, Libya, Chad and to some extent Eritrea and Ethiopia. Therefore, a conflict in Sudan will add more fuel to the fire," Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad, a Horn of Africa analyst at South Link Consultants told The EastAfrican.

Experts agree that the spillover of chaos from Sudan could be dire for the region. The Khartoum crisis also means uncertain prospects for peace in Juba and delayed resolution of its border issues with Khartoum, along with a renewed influx of refugees. There are about two million South Sudanese refugees in Sudan.

Last week, US Senator Cory Booker, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned that Washington must make a decisive move to prevent the fall of both countries arising from the crisis in Khartoum.

"While relations between Sudan and South Sudan have improved in recent years, the civil war in South Sudan, the political crisis in Sudan, and the tenuous situation along their shared border are reminders that the peace agreement between the two countries remains fragile as long as there is conflict in either country," he wrote to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a letter made public by the US Senate.

"This transnational nature of the crises in both countries requires the full time attention of a diplomat who has the mandate to work across borders and co-ordinate a strategy to facilitate the resolution of multiple, interrelated conflicts in the two Sudans."

Aggrey writes for the the Nation on Kenya's Foreign Relations and diplomatic affairs as well as regional humanitarian issues.

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