| 26 February 2024, Monday |

Sudanese factions break deadlock with talks over draft constitution

Sudan’s military leaders have submitted notes on a draft constitution as a basis for talks under international mediation, three political sources told Reuters, signaling an easing of a year-long political deadlock.

The draft constitution, drawn up by the Sudanese Bar Assocation in August, provides for a transitional civilian-led authority with oversight over the armed forces, who would exit politics after the signing of a deal.

However, it faces opposition from Islamists who held power under former president Omar al-Bashir and protested the talks on Saturday, and a protest movement that has been staging large demonstrations for more than a year.

The military seized control in a coup in October 2021, halting a transition towards democratic elections following Bashir’s overthrow in a 2019 uprising.

A new deal would have the potential to restart reforms and draw in much needed foreign financing.

Talks that began informally last month involving the military and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition that shared power with the army before the coup are now expanding under the facilitation of the United Nations mission in Sudan, said the sources.

The talks are supported by the “Quad” of the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The Sudanese Revolutionary Front, which represents most of the country’s rebel groups, said it was on board with the process in a statement on Wednesday.

In its response to the constitutional draft, the military asked that it be allowed to name its own commander general, according to a person who saw the notes, which also contain the military’s view on restructuring and relinquishing some of its business activities.

A spokesperson for the military did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the notes.

Two sources from the FFC said that an understanding had been reached with the coalition that top military officers would not be subject to prosecution but that wider consultations would continue on the topics of immunity and transitional justice. The FFC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Protesters have called for generals to be brought to justice for the killing of demonstrators and other violations since 2019, rejecting the idea of immunity.

The sources said the new deal would also include the participation of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), two groups which protesters have shunned for their participation in Bashir’s government but which have since sought to distance themselves from Bashir loyalists.

“Given our stance against the coup … we are a key part of the arrangements for a political solution and are in contact with the political parties and UNITAMS,” said PCP political secretary Kamal Omer. Osama Hassona, a DUP official, said his party was in favor of the draft constitution and UN-led political process as well.

On Tuesday, pro-democracy groups accused Bashir loyalists of storming the premises of the Sudanese Bar Association and attacking lawyers inside. Leadership of Bashir’s now-dissolved National Congress Party did not respond to requests for comment.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat