On Monday, December 5, the Forces of Freedom and Change (FCC) in Sudan, a coalition of centrist and right-wing political parties, signed an initial deal with the military junta as part of a political framework arrangement. The agreement will pave the way for a two-year “civilian-led” transition towards elections, a year after the military led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan staged a coup on October 25, 2021.
“The Agreement 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 Trilateral Mechanism comprised of the United Nations Integrated Assistance Mission in Sudan, African Union, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development said in a statement.
Meanwhile, as Burhan, his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, and the FFC were gathered at the Republican Palace in Khartoum, Sudanese security forces were firing tear gas and stun grenades at the thousands of people who were protesting against the agreement just a mile away.
حتي الان القوات الانقلابية تقمع موكب الثوار بواسطة المدرعات ومدرعات المياه وتطلق الغاز المسيل للدموع بكثافة والقنابل الصوتية علي الثوار
— طــــه ود حنـــان (@6a7a_hussein) December 5, 2022
شعبنا الجبار 🔥
— Eltayeb Elmosharaf (@Elmosharaf_E) December 5, 2022
The protests, which drew crowds from Khartoum and the twin city of Omdurman, were called by the Resistance Committees (RCs) which led the fight against the coup, mobilizing millions across Sudan in defense of the December Revolution.
The uprising has been met with brutal repression by junta forces, with more than 120 people killed and over 7,000 injured.
United under the slogan “No Negotiation, No Partnership, No Compromise,” the over 5,000 RCs in the country vehemently rejected any sort of power-sharing arrangement with the military. They have pushed for a complete overthrow of the military junta, and for the generals responsible for committing atrocities to be brought to justice.
Watch video of protest
Under the terms of the framework agreement, Sudan will be governed by civilian authorities at all levels. A new “Security and Defense Council” will be formed, which will be headed by the prime minister. The military will officially be represented only in this council.
The deal also emphasizes “one national professional army committed to the unified military doctrine and carrying out its duties in the framework of protecting the nation’s borders and defending democratic civilian rule.”
However, no date has been set for the final agreement, or for the appointment of a prime minister.
Critical issues including those related to transitional justice, reform of the security and military sector, and the Juba Peace Agreement have been left out of the initial agreement, to be finalized later. This is of great concern amid fears that the military might be granted immunity from prosecution in the final agreement.
The Darfur Bar Association has deemed the framework agreement a “deviation from the path of restoring the constitutional life of the country, an entry point for power-sharing between its signatories, and the legalization of impunity of the security apparatus of the ousted regime [a reference to ousted dictator Omar al-Bashir].”
In August 2019, in the aftermath of the June 3 Khartoum massacre, the FFC struck a deal with the military junta led by Burhan that had taken control after Bashir’s overthrow. The agreement led to the creation of a joint civilian-military transitional government, while granting the military extensive control over matters ranging from foreign policy to the economy. Sudan’s revolutionary forces, including the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), withdrew from the FFC coalition after this deal.
A Sovereignty Council was formed to preside over the transition, and its members were granted immunity, including the members from the military. Whatever power civilian leaders did have was extinguished with the October 25 coup. Just months later, as Sudan was witnessing another mass uprising against the military, the FFC entered into negotiations with the junta yet again.
“Calling the agreement ‘framework’ or ‘final’ does not change its nature in any way. It is in all cases a legitimization of the authority of the 25th coup,” the Alliance of Forces for Radical Change, a coalition led by the SCP, denounced in a statement. It added that the agreement was a complete contradiction of the slogans on the streets which are against negotiation, bargaining, or compromise with the military.
“Why do political forces that were affiliated with the revolution strive for political action that is contrary to the revolution?” the statement asks. “The answer lies in the fact that the interests of these forces are consistent and complementary with each other and against the aspirations of our people for freedom, peace, democracy, and justice,” it claims.
“The interests of politicians seeking to inherit the former regime are integrated with the ambition of the military to continue their political and economic control, and justice for the martyrs is a ‘minimal’ price for the continuation of this alliance…”
In a separate statement, the SCP stated that the framework agreement “imposed from abroad” aimed to undo the achievements of the December Revolution and reproduce the former regime in a new version, to serve and protect the interests of “parasitic capitalism, the military, and the civil bureaucracy and their allies abroad.”
Sudan’s economic conditions have severely deteriorated since the coup. The prices of staple foods have remained up to 260% higher compared to October 2021, and one third of the country’s population is facing hunger – an increase of 50% over last year. In September, the coup regime raised taxes on agricultural products, industry, and trade by up to 500%, pushing costs even further.
The SCP has warned that a government emerging from a settlement would pursue the same IMF-prescribed economic policies of the former regime. Speaking to Peoples Dispatch in October, SCP member Osama Saeed had stated, “They are taking advantage of the severe economic distress and trying to convince people that the US and the IMF will provide financial support and help alleviate their suffering if a compromise is reached.”
“We are consciously resisting for a just, comprehensive, and sustainable peace that addresses the roots of the historical crisis in our country, and leads to a radical and comprehensive change…which begins with a providing a decent life, security, and freedom for the Sudanese [people], and curbing the machine of killing of unarmed civilians in all regions of Sudan,” the coordination of RCs in Khartoum emphasized in a statement rejecting the framework deal.
“Transforming the project of the great Sudanese revolution into a project for a political settlement” that recognizes the coup regime is not only a matter of “high treason” but also breaks from the revolution, the statement stressed, calling on RCs across Sudan to continue towards the path of revolution.