December 21, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – Earlier this month a framework agreement was signed in Sudan between the military junta and major political forces who are under the umbrella of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC).
The agreement provides for the formation of a transitional civilian government that would take over from the military and rule for 24 months after which elections would be held.
Sceptics at home: But despite the international praise for the deal including from western nations and regional powers, many at home are wary of contentious items not addressed in the agreement that may be used by the military to slow-walk or even derail implementation.
These items include transitional justice, dismantling of the 1989 coup holdovers, resolving conflict in eastern Sudan as well as military & security reform.
Question of who runs the army:
There is also plenty of apprehension regarding the role of the army chief in the new government who would theoretically be appointed by the civilian head of state who will hold the title of the commander in chief.
Much of the talk revolves around where the current chief general Abdel-Fatah al-Burhan and his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemetti) who leads the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) be placed in the upcoming transitional government.
Burhan and Hemetti led a coup last year that disbanded the first civilian government formed after the ouster of ex-president Omer Hassan al-Bashir. They also briefly detained most cabinet ministers including Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok along with scores of other politicians.
Siddiq Tawer, who was a member of the dissolved Sovereignty Council under in the transitional government, told Sudan Tribune that Burhan lured FFC into signing the framework agreement which recognizes him as an equal partner in the political scene rather than someone who carried out a coup against the legitimate civilian authority.
“What kind of civilian authority is it whose chief gets orders from leaders below him and cannot relieve, promote or dismiss? Burhan will be in this sense above any authority and the military institution is under his command and outside the authority of the civilian government” Tawer said.
Tawer added that recent statements by Burhan downplaying the significance of the framework agreement is effectively a death certificate for the deal.
But another official with the Unionist Alliance party Mohamed Abdel-Hakam dismissed these concerns to Sudan Tribune stressing that the draft transitional constitution produced by the steering committee of the Sudanese bar association that was agreed to by the military side in addition to the framework agreement, stipulates that the military would recommend a candidate for the army chief to the civilian president to endorse or express reservations.
On the broader question of military role, Abdel-Hakam noted that the draft transitional constitution and the political framework agreement specified that military companies would devolve to the Ministry of Finance and that the armed forces are prohibited from engaging in commercial and investment activities except with regard to military missions and military industrialization.
Furthermore, the decision to declare war or other similarly sensitive issues will be deliberated in the security and defence council chaired by the civilian prime minister who holds executive power and authority over the police and intelligence agencies.
He noted that the transitional legislative assembly will also have a say in any major security issues including the declaration of war.
Mohieddin Mohamed, a researcher and political analyst, said it is all but certain that the current military brass would stay in place under the new transitional government.
He added that he does not expect the military to nominate a figure other than Burhan, particularly in light of his role as a signatory to the framework agreement. The same would be true of all other senior military leaders.
Fayez Al-Silek, a former adviser to former Prime Minister Hamdok, told Sudan Tribune that the clauses on the appointment of the army commander must be worded clearly to avoid any ambiguity.
He stressed that the role of the army chief is not a political function but rather a military technical function in the first place.