Sudan factions initial pact ushering in transitional government

The document is complementary to a power-sharing deal signed on July 17 that aims to form a joint civilian-military ruling body. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 August 2019

Sudan factions initial pact ushering in transitional government

  • Saudi Arabia welcomes deal in Sudanthat paves the way to civilian rule
  • A new prime minister will be named on Aug. 20 and a cabinet on Aug. 28

KHARTOUM: Sudan's military rulers and the main opposition coalition initialled a constitutional declaration on Sunday, paving the way for a transitional government following the overthrow of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir.
The two sides reached agreement on Saturday on the shape of a transitional government in lengthy negotiations since Bashir's overthrow by the army in April.
The parties are expected to put their final signatures on the agreement on Aug. 17 at a ceremony in Khartoum attended by foreign leaders.
Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region by the International Criminal Court, was deposed after months of mass protests. Continuing unrest, during which dozens of demonstrators were killed, has plunged Sudan into turmoil.
Sunday's formalities were attended by African Union and Ethiopian mediators, who had helped broker the accord. Those present in the room clapped and cheered as army and civilian representatives held up copies of the agreement.
Hundreds celebrated in the streets, dancing, chanting revolutionary songs, waving national flags and sounding horns.
"Today, the civilian state is achieved," said Nusseibeh Abdullah, a 21-year-old woman.

We turned a tough page of Sudan’s history by signing this agreement.

Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, deputy head of Sudan military council

One of Sudan's top generals, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is deputy head of the Transitional Military council that will be superseded by the interim government, said the agreement was a victory for Sudan.
"We have finally agreed on a constitutional document that will change the course of history for our country," he said.
Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, some of whose members have been accused of involvement in killing demonstrators who have repeatedly turned out in huge numbers to press for political progress.

Transition
Despite the optimism, some have cautioned that it is still too early to tell how events will unfold in the lengthy transition period required to prepare for elections after three decades of autocratic rule under Bashir.
"It is not the first time that Sudan signed some sort of agreement to resolve very difficult political questions," said Magdi el-Gizouli, a Sudanese academic and a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute.
But he added: "I think if there is reason for optimism, the reason is not in the negotiation rooms, the reason is in this popular movement that doesn’t want to go away."
Ethiopian mediator Mahmoud Dirir said the agreement "establishes civilian and democratic rule that seeks to build a state of law, a state of equality, a state which does not marginalise its citizens".
The agreement was welcomed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all of which see themselves as influential in Khartoum. Sudanese troops are currently operating in Yemen as part of a Saudi-led coalition is fighting Houthi rebels.
According to a document seen by Reuters, the formation of a sovereign council, which will run the country during a three-year transitional period leading up to elections, will be announced on Aug. 18.
A new prime minister will be named on Aug. 20 and a cabinet on Aug. 28. The cabinet and the sovereign council will meet together on Sept. 1, ahead of the appointment of a legislative assembly in three months.
The 300-member assembly will serve during the transitional period. The main opposition coalition, the Forces of Freedom and Change, will have 67% of its seats and other political groups not associated with Bashir will have the rest.

Welcomed by allies

The Saudi Foreign Ministry welcomed the agreement as “a quantum leap that will transition Sudan to stability and security,” and Egypt said it was “a significant step on the right track.” 

In the UAE, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said Sudan’s transition to civilian rule “turns the page” on former ruler Omar Bashir and his Islamist allies.

(With Reuters)


Warring Libya rivals sign truce, but tough political talks ahead

Updated 24 October 2020

Warring Libya rivals sign truce, but tough political talks ahead

  • KSA hopes new era will achieve security, sovereignty and stability for country and its people

JEDDAH: Libya’s warring factions signed a permanent cease-fire agreement on Friday, but any lasting end to years of chaos and bloodshed will require wider agreement among myriad armed groups and the outside powers that support them.

Acting UN Libya envoy Stephanie Williams said the cease-fire would start immediately and all foreign fighters must quit Libya within three months.

As a first commercial passenger flight in more than a year crossed front lines from Tripoli to the eastern city of Benghazi on Friday, Williams noted Libya’s “fraught” recent history, one of the numerous broken truces and failed political solutions.

“But we shouldn’t let the cynics win,” she said, hailing both sides for their “courage” in agreeing a cease-fire and saying they deserved international support.

Friday’s agreement was reached after the Government of National Accord (GNA) in June beat back Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) from its 14-month assault on the capital.

Since then, frontlines have stabilized near the central coastal city of Sirte and the LNA has ended its eight-month blockade of Libyan oil output, which was strangling state finances on both sides.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • First commercial flight in more than a year crosses frontlines from Tripoli to Benghazi.
  • Libya’s National Oil Corp. lifts force majeure on exports from ports of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf.
  • US terms agreement a major step forward and says all foreign fighters must now leave Libya.
  • Both sides have deployed fighters from Syria, Sudan, Chad and European mercenaries.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the “Kingdom’s aspiration for the agreement to pave the way for the success of the understandings on the political and economic tracks, thus contributing to the beginning of a new era that achieves security, peace, sovereignty and stability for Libya and its brotherly people.”

There was caution inside Libya too. “We all want to end the war and destruction. But personally I don’t trust those in power,” said Kamal Al-Mazoughi, 53, a businessman sitting in a Tripoli cafe. “If there is no force or mechanism to apply this on the ground ... this deal will only be ink on paper,” said Ahmed Ali, 47, in Benghazi.

Key details on implementing the cease-fire, including monitoring the departure of foreign fighters and merging armed groups, have been left to subcommittees in future talks.

Both sides have deployed thousands of foreign fighters, including Syrians, Sudanese, Chadians and European mercenaries brought in by Russia’s Wagner group. 

Meanwhile, political talks scheduled in Tunisia early next month, with a view to holding national elections eventually, will need to reach agreement on historically elusive issues and overcome widespread mistrust. The US said all foreign fighters must now leave. “This agreement is a major step forward toward realizing the shared interests of all Libyans in de-escalation, stability and the departure of foreign fighters,” said a statement issued by the US Embassy in Libya.

“We urge internal and external actors now to support good-faith implementation of the agreement.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said this “is a fundamental step toward peace and stability in Libya. “Too many people have suffered for too long. Too many men, women and children have died as a result of the conflict.”

Libya’s National Oil Corp. (NOC) has lifted force majeure on exports from the ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, it said, adding that output would reach 800,000 barrels per day within two weeks and 1 million bpd in four weeks.

Al Waha Oil Co, the NOC company that runs Es Sider, said the port would start operating again on Saturday with the first tanker expected within 48 hours.