‘Repeating cycle’: Protesters decry Sudan agreement

Khartoum, Sudan – Sudanese protesters have denounced a framework agreement between the army, powerful armed groups and political parties.

The deal, signed on Monday, aims to end the standoff that lasted more than a year between security services and political elites following a military coup on October 25, 2021.

Critics fear the deal is a lifeline for the military and the powerful paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), both of which spearheaded the coup.

Sudanese resistance committees, neighborhood groups that lead the pro-democracy movement on the streets, say the deal effectively re-establishes a partnership between political and security elites, betraying the aspirations of the 120 people. killed in anti-coup protests.

“We believe that if there is no justice, the killing and raping will continue,” said Ahmed Ismat, a spokesman for the resistance committees in southern Khartoum. “We’re just repeating the same cycle.”

International observers and mediators have touted the agreement as a “positive step” towards restoring the path to democracy, with the settlement ushering in a two-year transition period ahead of elections.

“There is now a credible path to a final agreement that would lift Sudan out of the current political crisis – we urge all Sudanese stakeholders to seize that opportunity,” tweeted John Godfrey, the US ambassador to Sudan.

Despite the optimism, key issues such as transitional justice and security sector reform still need to be worked out in the second phase of the framework agreement, ahead of a final settlement.

The Juba peace agreement, signed in October 2020 to end long-standing internal conflicts, will also be reviewed. Many Juba signatories to the deal later supported the coup and are now excluded from the framework agreement.

Nabil Abdullah, the army spokesman, said the army is sticking to the deal.

“The position of the army was made clear by the commander-in-chief [Abdel Fattah al-Burhan] in his speech yesterday morning … where he [expressed] the military’s commitment… to the agreement and all that [the army] is open for all political forces to join it,” Abdullah said.

Sustainable deal?

While the military and RSF have agreed to relinquish control of the Sudanese economy and political decision-making, the framework agreement does not provide a clear mechanism for doing so, said Kholood Khair, founder and director of Confluence Advisory, a think tank. in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

“Even if it’s just a symbolic agreement meant to lay the framework… it doesn’t show how it will function functionally,” Khair told Al Jazeera over the phone. “It is clear that the deal means more to the people who were in the room – the generals and politicians – and little to everyone else.”

Throughout Khartoum, most people were apathetic to the news, while many others braved tear gas and violence to oppose the settlement.

There was a strong police presence in the center of the city, including dozens of white Toyota pickup trucks that transported plainclothes men with scarves over their faces to crack down on protesters – a strategy often used by security forces.

On the eve of the accord, many protesters were also outraged that Mohamad Adam – a 17-year-old boy nicknamed Tupac – Reportedly arrived at his court hearing visibly beaten and bruised.

Tupac, a hero of the protest movement, state accused of killing a police officer, but his lawyers say the charges were fabricated and he was tortured into making a false confession.

“Tupac was badly beaten. He was tied to a chair and his front teeth were chipped and broken,” said Sara Hamdan, a human rights activist who attended Adam’s hearing.

Dania Atabani, the spokesman for a resistance committee in Khartoum, told Al Jazeera that protests will continue in the coming days as young people do not trust the security forces to stop violating human rights or surrender power no matter what they do. agreed on paper. .

“We have negotiated with them before. We gave them a lot of chances. But what did they eventually do? A military coup,” said 22-year-old Atabani. “They have been tortured [us]injured [us] and fabricated charges against innocent civilians. They betray and kill their own people.”

Al Jazeera attempted to contact prosecutors and police officials for comment, but calls and emails went unanswered.

Regional influence

Since former President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been battling for influence by rival security forces. Now the framework agreement allows both players to bring civilian politicians closer to their jobs while retaining their security clients.

Just last month, Sudanese political and religious leader Al-Sayid Mohamed Orthman al-Mirghani returned to Sudan after nearly ten years of exile in Egypt. Senior members of the National Umma Party as well visited Cairo will meet with Egyptian officials in October.

Meanwhile, the UAE has close relations with Mohammad al-Hassan al-Mirghani and Ibrahim al-Mirghani – two Democratic Alliance Party (DUP) politicians – who signed the framework agreement, Khair said.

“The engagement of [Cairo and Abu Dhabi] is of great concern to many Sudanese people,” says Khair. “Any good feeling one might get from having a civilian governance structure is largely diminished because the fingerprints of the Emirates and the Egyptians are clearly visible.”

Khair added that civilian politicians are primarily motivated to gain legitimacy from outside actors, and if they were more focused on gaining trust internally, the negotiations and deal might have looked better and had broader support.

Instead, members of the resistance committees told Al Jazeera that their mistrust of the political elites is irreparable. They say the only way forward is to continue organizing in their respective neighborhoods and protesting together.

“While politicians signed the agreement, we [protesters] were beaten up just two kilometers away,” Ismat said. Political elites – whether in the military or civilian – are against the revolution.”

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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