Sudan’s Military Rejects Ethiopia’s Transition Proposal

A transition plan to move Sudan towards civilian rule was proposed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali on June 23rd but was rejected by Sudanese military rulers. The Transitional Military Council (TMC), nevertheless, refused this proposal. “We asked the mediators to unite their efforts and submit a joint paper as soon as possible to return the parties to negotiations,” said Transitional Military Council member and spokesman Lt Gen Shams al-Deen Kabbashi, according to The National. Part of the rejection to this proposal stems from the TMC’s fear that Ethiopia is attempting to infringe on the sovereignty of Sudan. According to news site The East African, “Sudan is not accepting any external intervention that is trying to impose any kind of solutions without our opinions and consultations,” al-Deen Kabashi said. However, as of June 29th the TMC accepted the joint AU-Ethiopia transition proposal. The agreed-upon proposal is similar to the one proposed by Abiy but the legislative council’s composition would be decided upon the signing of the agreement, according to Al Jazeera.
The international community has expressed concern for protestors and has been urging both the TMC and opposition to negotiate. UN Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet pleaded Sudan allow human rights monitors access into the country in order to investigate the crimes committed by the TMC on the June 3rd sit-in carried out by protestors.
Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo said the TMC “must not allow the country to slide back into yet more repression”.

“A number of points have emerged around it, but in general it is a suitable proposal for negotiations to reach a final agreement leading to the establishment of the institutions of a transitional rule …,” al-Deen Kabbashi said.

There is a sense of optimism that a transition into a civilian-led government can be reached between protestors and the military, especially since widespread attention for the uprising has been apparent. Arab Spring uprisings have created lasting change in countries like Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria. Similar uprisings can find success in Sudan because both the FDFC and TMC have shown a desire to negotiate with each other. Despite this, peace can only be achieved with the inclusion of justice. Reprimanding the TMC for their excessive use of violence and human rights violations will send a message to Sudan, Ethiopia, and the international community that whatever the outcome of the negotiations, it cannot be complete without the halting of unnecessary violence towards citizens. Bachelet demonstrated her understanding of this and therefore is taking a step in the right direction. The world has learned how violence and the lack of consequences for opposition groups in the Arab Spring has played out. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in Egypt, the Bahraini government, and Syrian security forces have, for example, allowed violence to flourish because there was no accountability for their horrendous acts. In the end, only Sudan can find peace for Sudan. A balance of FDFC and TMC representation may be the only way of achieving a real, permanent democracy.

Sudan has been undergoing a revolution since December 2018 to instate civilian rule after the toppling of president Omar al-Bashir in April. Street protests by those demanding a transition to civilian rule have been met with violence by the Sudanese security forces. As of the protests of June 30th, 7 civilians have died and 181 have been wounded. Efforts to alleviate the crackdown on protests has led Ethiopia to offer a transition proposal in hopes of reaching a compromise. Abiy Ahmed Ali, prime minister of Ethiopia, visited Khartoum two weeks ago to present his proposal, but was struck down by the Transition Military Council claiming that it was a threat to Sudan’s sovereignty and there would need to be a new proposal with the inclusion of the African Union.

With news that a transition plan has been accepted and will finally seat the Sudanese military leaders and members of the opposition at the same table, there seems to be a promising start to negotiations. Regardless, protests are still ongoing and the opposition is adamant about their wishes to instate civilian rule. The situation is still sensitive because agreement about the makeup of the legislative council has not yet been achieved. Depending on how these talks between the TMC and FDFC go, we may either see a cessation of abuse to civilians or an escalation of these protests.

Kerent Benjumea