Armed rebel groups in Sudan agree to talks for formation of crucial legislative council

The armed rebel groups in Sudan will meet the representatives of the civilian Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) on the sidelines of the ongoing peace negotiations in South Sudan’s capital, Juba

February 04, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Peace talks Sudan

The dominant civilian coalition in the Sudanese transitional government has taken a step closer to reaching an agreement with the armed rebel groups in the country over the formation of the crucial legislative council and the appointment of civilian State governors. On February 1, Saturday, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), an umbrella organization of a number of armed rebel groups, agreed to meet with the representatives of the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) on the sidelines of the ongoing peace negotiations in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. The transitional government in Sudan consists of the sovereignty council, the council of ministers, and the yet-to-be formed legislative council. 

The DFCF appoints the civilian members in the sovereignty council, the highest of the three bodies of the transitional government. It is a coalition of trade unions and left and centrist political parties that came together to represent the protest movement which ousted dictator Omar al-Bashir. The DFCF also forced the military junta which had subsequently assumed power to make way for a civilian-dominated joint transitional government in August 2019.

However, the military junta also appoints an equal number of members to the sovereignty council, as well as the defense and the home affairs ministers in the cabinet or the council of ministers. The other ministers are appointed by the DFCF. 

The legislative council was to be formed by November 2019. 66% of the seats in this body are reserved for those appointed by the DFCF, while the remaining are reserved for parties outside of the DFCF, excluding al-Bashir’s National Congress Party and others who had supported its rule. 

Entirely consisting of civilian forces, the legislative council has the power to revoke the immunity accorded to the generals sitting in the sovereignty council. It can thus serve as a crucial counterweight to the power of the military. This is vital to achieve lasting peace in the country, which is among the main goals set for the transitional government in the Declaration that brought the DFCF together. 

The civilian coalition has been calling for the formation of the legislative council. It has also called for the appointment of civilian governors to replace the ones that have been appointed by the military – another process that was to be completed by November 2019 as per the agreement between the military junta and the DFCF.

However, the peace negotiations with armed rebel groups, which started soon after the formation of the transitional government, have stalled both of these processes as the SRF has called for them to be put on hold till the negotiations are complete. The SRF feels it will be in a better position to negotiate its share of representation in the council and in the appointment of governors once the peace talks are concluded.

The DFCF has so far filed nominations for 14 of the 18 State governors in January. It has sought to reassure the SRF that after the peace agreements are reached, governors will be reshuffled to include SRF’s nominees. The DFCF has also reiterated that reservations will be made in the legislative council for the SRF to appoint its representatives after the conclusions of the peace talks.

Following a statement by DFCF on Friday announcing that its delegates will be flying to Juba to meet with the SRF representatives and discuss the way forward, the SRF spokesperson Osama Said welcomed the gesture and called it a “positive and a step towards reviewing previous positions which contributed to disturbing the relationship of joint struggle,” Sudan Tribune reported.