Sudan: Looking for a Fruitful Partnership

opinion

The deal between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) concluded Thursday following two days of intense African-Ethiopian initiative could have been reached two months ago, but in real life and politics in particular it is a futile exercise to drop the question: what if?

The precious lives lost and time wasted will not be wasted and lost if the important lesson is learnt. And that the balance of power on ground shows there is no way to bypass FFC politically and that the army, Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have to be accommodated during the interim period.

Will the way forward be of a partnership, hopefully a fruitful one between the two or an engagement of an odd couple?

The question is a legitimate one given a similar experience of power sharing that went sour. The reference is to what is known as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that was signed between then Sudan government led by former President Omar Al-Bashir and the rebel group, SPLM led by John Garang. Though it was a different era, different players and issues, but the main point is that despite the detailed legal clauses on what to be carried out and the international guarantees provided by heavy weights led by the United States, but the 6-year interim period was characterized by one main thing: lack of trust and accordingly failure to implement in good faith clauses for change and democratic transformation.

No wonder that the CPA failed to achieve any of its two main objectives: to make unity attractive and restore peace. Eventually Sudan ended with the worst scenario: rekindled war between the two countries and inside them after South Sudan opted for separation.

The recent power sharing agreement between the TMC and FFC splits the sovereign council between the two, while the executive branch of the government will be a sole domain for FFC as well as two thirds of the yet to be nominated 300-member parliament.

Unless a genuine partnership is established from the start, it is easy to imagine a concerted effort to undermine the government, which will be taking an uphill battle. After all the government will be responsible from shouldering the day to day running of the country including hosts of problems from providing cash at ATMs to reigning prices that are skyrocketing by the hour and the same time dismantle the ancient regime of Ingaz and work on the democratic transformation.

On the other hand the military presides over the sovereign council for the first 22 months, which gives it an edge over the FFC-controlled government embroiled in expanding and inherited problems. Significant also is the declared position of rebel groups, who more or less came out publicly criticizing the agreement calling it a replica of the old deals that did not address the root causes of the problems of the marginalized areas.

This position beefs the standing of the TMC, which has already started some contacts with two of the rebel groups and have released from prison some of those rebels who have been detained. The irony is that both groups were members of FFC. On the other hand the deal calls for devoting the first six months to achieve peace and it remains to be seen whether TMC will cooperate in this endeavor, or will work to monopoly the issue of peace and contacts with the rebel groups.

However, FFC on its part still controls the street with a great degree of influence that has been tested more than once, but its main challenge is how to institutionalize and organize this movement and turn it into a fixed asset that could be called upon whenever there is a need.

The success of mass mobilization on June 30 despite more than one month of internet blackout, which was the main vehicle for communicating with the people, was one of the main driving forces behind Thursday deal.

On paper the deal should be a starting point to build a new partnership, but it will take time to see what is going to happen in reality. More important implementing the deal will show whether there is good faith to start a new chapter in the country's history or it is simply one round of a political game leading to another.

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