Sudan's Rough Transitioning


The row that erupted last week and involved the embattled health minister Dr. Akram El-Tom showed clearly the tumultuous period of the transition in Sudan. Moreover, it highlighted, not only the expected complicated issues facing the tripartite coalition of the sovereign council, the council of ministers and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) that constitute the political incubator for the post Ingaz regime, frictions within this bloc that was entrusted with steering the country peacefully through the transitional period, which should be culminated by elections.

Moreover, and to complicate an already complicated situation the flare-ups of tribal clashes in various parts of the country has continued with a new dimension being added that involved a bloody showdown between an army battalion and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Southern Kordofan province, which is a frontline facing the rebel groups of APLM-N-Alhilu.

Both the army and RSF in addition to the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have been instrumental in effecting the change that removed former President Omar Al-Bashir from power. Though NISS role has been reduced to collecting and analysing information and its fighting force was dismantled.

However, the root causes of the difficulties facing the transitional period are yet to be addressed in a frank and realistic way bearing in mind that already more than nine months have been wasted.

Earlier last month and on the first anniversary of the popular uprising that toppled the Ingaz regime, the tripartite issued a new matrix that have identified eight major issues, namely: peace, economy, security, dismantling Ingaz regime, justice, foreign relations and the partnership between the three bodies of the tripartite, then went on to agree on what ought to be done, with clear deadline and assigning those responsible for carrying out the specific task.

Though it has been little over four weeks since the matrix was made public, but its performance so far has been modest, at best, as major deadlines have been missed and with no explanation or justification.

In fact there are only six items out of 30 that have been carried out on time including publishing the matrix itself. Four of the remaining five relates to the Committee of Dismantling the Ingaz Regime, while more complicated issues like forming the consultative council or appointing civilian governors missed their deadlines, yet again in view of the standing veto from the Revolutionary Front, which insists on delaying these appointments till a peace deal is signed.

Despite the fact that peace talks have been going on in Juba for almost nine months, it has been extended lately with no deadline in the offing. This could be translated into a major delay that affects peace and putting civilian face in the regions as well as creating the supervisory body of the consultative council.

It is unfair to make the RF shoulder the responsibility of this delay alone. Rather, good part of it relates to lack of consensus on who should be appointed in both bodies.

Sudan has been through two popular uprisings before that failed to achieve their goal. One of the reasons of their failures was attributed to the short period of the transition that lasted only one year spent mainly on preparing for election. This time it was thought to extend the transition so as to make structural changes and set the country on its road for stability and democratic transformation after settling issues of peace and economic recovery.

With a modest record of achievements so far, it is clear that it will not be business as usual and the question will be which way the country will take in the very near future of weeks.

One possibility is to shorten the transitional period and go for early elections. It has been aired already, but is meeting resistance. Also there is the difficult option of various political forces and the tripartite come to a genuine national consensus, supported by a solid political will to implement a practical program through the transitional period.

A third option is looming in the horizon and relates to the expected arrival of UN mission. Though that mission was requested initially by Sudan, but in the end it will be guided by the actual decision of the UNSC and moreover the actual performance of that mission on ground.

Each of these options has its own consequences and a price to pay. The question is which price the country will eventually pay.

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