Sudan: Time for Change

Protesters take to streets in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on April 11, 2019.

From Addis Ababa to Oslo to Berlin, Sudan problems are being discussed in an attempt to find a way to bridge the gap between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change (DFC) that call for an interim period to lay the foundation for a civilian government and democratic transformation.

Moreover, either directly or indirectly the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the Arab League and the United Nations, the United States, neighboring and other countries are showing interests in what is going on in Sudan that ranges from visits to initiating mediation like the AU, whose initiative, being handled through the IGAD is the most credible and provides a base for others to follow suit.

Having too many cooks is not advisable and foreign powers intervention carry with it the typical, unavoidable non-benign symptoms. However, in the current case of Sudan whatever negative impact these interventions carry could be limited provided that there is a domestic clarity of vision and committed leadership to forge through.

Despite the complexity of the situation, Sudan can ask for couple of things to be done: to streamline all initiatives into a consolidated one to avoid shopping around and having conflicting agenda that will eventually undermine any mediation efforts. Then move to take the first step of separating the two integrated, thorny issues so as to help move negotiations between the TMC and DFC forward: the first is to have a separate channel for an independent investigation into the June 3rd massacre that led to the bloody break of the sit-in and poisoning of relationship between TMC and DFC.

The TMC claims that a third faction aside from the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is responsible from the massacre. Yet for such claim to be credible, an independent body should carry such investigation to exonerate the TMC and RSF as the first task, which could take an independent and separate path away from the rest of the initiatives.

Relieving political talks for the heavy burden of the massacre and its consequences can open a window for a negotiated settlement, which should be centered on a civilian-led government that works towards achieving piece, national reconciliation and democratic transformation.

However, for both regional and international interests, particularly neighboring countries stability of Sudan is of a prime concern. US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy warned both Egypt and Ethiopia that they don't need another Libya or Somalia along their borders, thus pushing the two to work together though they don't see eye to eye on many issues.

The other issue that will find support though to a lesser degree is the growing anti-militarization of the political system, which is being led by the AU, who more than 15 years ago adopted a position of not recognizing military coups. Though its decision to suspend Sudan's membership in the organization looks ceremonial with no real teeth, but AU decisions provide a base for other regional and world organizations to follow suit as in the case of both the UNSC and the EU.

The ultimate goal of various forces in Sudan should be to restore their country's file to be dealt with domestically and minimize as much as possible any foreign involvement, though for the time being that seems unavoidable.

Whether Sudanese can succeed in pushing those foreign powers to join hands in helping them make the much needed change that they have sacrificed for remains to be seen, but in the end it is the success of Sudanese to build institutions that are capable of defending their dreams and aspiration for a civilian, democratic rule. And such effort will be meaningless without strong economic base.

Sudan is a country rich in both natural and human resources. The December-April revolution has tapped on the diaspora, who are willing to lend their help be it financial, contacts or expertise in various forms to push and consolidate the change they are hoping for.

It is now more a question of leadership, organization, setting up goals for practical programs with time frames and a specific tasks to be carried out with the much needed determination.

With the revolution reaching out deeply at grassroots inside and outside Sudan as well as conveying a new image of the country, it will be a crime to let that be wasted by divisions and inefficiency.

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