By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
The Ethiopian government on Tuesday welcomed a Political Framework Agreement signed between civilian political forces and the military institution in Sudan.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the agreement is an important step towards forming a civilian government that would lead the country to free and fair national elections.
“Ethiopia, while fully supporting the agreement and its implementation, has full confidence in the wisdom of the Sudanese military and political forces to lead their country to a democratic transition to the satisfaction of the aspirations of the Sudanese people,” the statement added.
Sudan’s military and civilian leaders on Monday signed an initial deal aimed at ending a severe political crisis that has gripped the East African country since a coup a year ago.
Monday’s deal was signed by Burhan, paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and multiple civilian groups, most notably the Forces for Freedom and Change — the main civilian coalition that was ousted in the coup.
Other signatories included the Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF) Islamist Popular Congress Party, a faction of the Democratic Unionist Party, and some ex-rebel groups who signed a 2020 peace deal.
During the ceremony, Daglo reiterated the military’s purported commitment to exit the political scene, saying “it is essential to build a sustainable democratic regime.”
The trilateral facilitation panel of the UN, AU and IGAD called on the signatories to commit to respecting and protecting the rights and freedoms of all Sudanese to ensure the success of the ongoing political process.
It also urged the international donor community to fully resume its financial support once a functioning government is in place.
The accord is hoped to pave the way to establish a new transitional civilian authority.
The Agreement, a joint statement stated, is a critical first step towards the restoration of a sustainable transitional period and the formation of a credible civil, democratic, and accountable government.
“The ceremony today is a culmination of the sustained efforts of Sudanese stakeholders over the past year to find a solution to the political crisis and restore constitutional order,” said UN special representative Volker Perthes.
Perthes further urged Sudanese factions to “immediately” start the second phase to resolve the outstanding issues and reach a comprehensive deal.
The signing comes months after Burhan pledged that the military would step aside and make way for factions to agree on the formation of a civilian government.
A final deal tackling critical issues including transitional justice, security sector reforms to the military and the status of the Dismantling Committee are expected to be finalized in near future.
Although the deal is seen as a landmark step towards a democratic transition in Sudan, however, observers question whether the military component is ready to give up economic interests and wider powers that it views as its privileged domain.
Phase one of the deal “is a very low-level commitment on Burhan’s part… allowing him to survive” politically, said Kholood Khair founder of the Confluence Advisory, a Khartoum-based think-tank.
But the signatories will likely face “a real political crisis as they start talking in earnest about security sector reforms, transitional justice (and) financial accountability,” she added.