Date: Wednesday, 19 June 2019
CAIRO - There has been an increase in regional and international momentum to find a way out of the Sudanese crisis but guarantees by international mediators are considered crucial for any resolution.
The visit to the region by US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy and the appointment by Washington of Donald Booth as special envoy to Sudan have come to shore up African mediations.
Washington confirmed its support for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s initiative and its commitment to a political solution.
Regional and international interests could be threatened if an escalation of the crisis between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Declaration of Freedom and Change coalition spills outside Sudan’s borders.
Sudanese researcher Haidar Ibrahim Ali said there is foreign interest in stability in Sudan because the country is in an area of great strategic importance and is “the key to the Horn of Africa.”
Ali said the Ethiopian mediation is “moving in the right direction” because “it has been accepted by all concerned parties.”
The African mediation proceeded on two tracks, one led by Ahmed and the other by the African Union. The two teams, in coordination with Washington and other international parties, are working to create conditions for an agreement that would allow the formation of a civilian government and block counter-revolutionary and Islamist elements loyal to ousted President Omar al-Bashir.
The African mediation is backed by a wide-ranging international team, including the United Nations, the European Union and several Western countries. The Arab League is expected to soon join the effort.
The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt said they would back a political solution that respects the will of the Sudanese people.
“The current detente in Sudan is reason for optimism and we call for an agreement that could steer the transition stage through a genuine and stable partnership,” Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, who lauded Ethiopian efforts, posted on Twitter.
The international role seems to have prevented an escalation as the TMC was said to be considering greater security measures and the opposition coalition expressed a determination to continue engaging in civil disobedience. The coalition was looking for guarantees from international mediators that the June 3 crackdown would be fully investigated and those responsible held accountable while ensuring the transfer of power to a civilian government.
The two sides reacted positively to the Ethiopian mediation and the visit of the US delegation. There was a diminished military presence on the streets of Khartoum and the Sudanese Professional Association, one of the main components of the Declaration of Freedom and Change group, called off the civil disobedience campaign.
The TMC was cooperative with the mediation efforts but rejected a request to move dialogue with the opposition outside Sudan. The council also insisted on presiding over the proposed Sovereign Council. The protesters insist on having a majority in the Sovereign Council and presiding over it.
The TMC tried to defuse the crisis caused by its June 3 crackdown on the opposition’s sit-in in Khartoum by admitting the responsibility of its security forces in the ensuing bloodshed. It arrested hundreds of troops and vowed to try them in public.
Hamid al-Tigani, a professor of public policy at the American University in Cairo, said the TMC was under tremendous political pressure, forcing it to make concessions.
Experts point out that both the TMC and the opposition have no choice but to cooperate with the Ethiopian and US efforts.
Direct negotiations between the military and the opposition had been stalled since May 20 because of a lack of trust. International guarantees will determine the outcome of developments in Sudan.