Sudan names ruling council after landmark signing

Young Sudanese boys carry a national flag as they celebrate in Bahri, the capital Khartoum's northern district, a day after generals and protest leaders signed a historic transitional constitution meant to pave the way for civilian rule in Sudan, on August 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 August 2019

Sudan names ruling council after landmark signing

  • Rare scenes of jubilation filled the streets of Khartoum
  • Worldwide congratulations poured in after the signing, which revellers and officials alike hailed as the beginning of a “new Sudan”

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s opposition coalition on Sunday named five people as civilian members of the country’s sovereign council to be sworn in on Monday, a source within the coalition told Reuters.

A power-sharing agreement signed on Saturday paves the way for a transitional government and eventual elections. It provides for a sovereign council as the highest authority in the country but largely delegates executive powers to the Cabinet of ministers.

According to the agreement, the opposition coalition is allowed to choose five members of the council and the military another five, with the two sides jointly choosing a civilian as an eleventh member.

The Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) chose Aisha Mousa, Siddig Tower, Mohamed Elfaki Suleiman, Hassan Sheikh Idris and Taha Othman Ishaq, the coalition source said.

The spokesman for the Transitional Military Council (TMC) said that TMC head Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, his deputy Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Lt. Gen. Yasser Al-Atta will serve as three of the five military members. It has yet to announce the other two chosen members.

The military members will select the head of the council for the first 21 months of the transition period, which lasts three years and three months, according to the agreement.

The FFC has nominated a former UN economist  Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister. He is expected to be appointed on Tuesday and sworn in on Wednesday.

A Cabinet is then to be formed before Sudan’s new institutions can tackle the main challenges that lie ahead, first among them measures to rescue a moribund economy. 

According to the green book of documents signed on Saturday, several key steps will be taken before embarking on the long and obstacle-ridden road to 2022 polls.

The first is set to come with the planned announcement of the composition of a ruling sovereign council comprised of six civilians and five members of the military.

The signing ceremony in a hall by the Nile River was attended by several high-ranking foreign officials, the biggest such event in years to be held in the once-pariah state. Worldwide congratulations poured in after the signing, which revellers and officials alike hailed as the beginning of a “new Sudan” after 30 years of rule by the now-detained Omar Al-Bashir.

“I welcome this historic moment for Sudan. This agreement responds to the demands of the Sudanese people who have tirelessly called for change and a better future,” said Britain’s Minister for Africa Andrew Stephenson.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed his country would support the establishment of “a government that protects the rights of all Sudanese citizens and leads to free and fair elections.”

Jubilation

Rare scenes of jubilation filled the streets of the capital after generals and opposition leaders signed the documents that will govern Sudan’s three-year transition to civilian rule.

Making the most of a new freedom acquired during eight months of protests that left at least 250 people dead, Sudanese families took to the streets for wild celebrations.

Youths spilling out of honking cars drag-raced down the main Nile-side road deep into the night, while groups sang and danced — the same two words echoing across the entire city: “Madaniya, Madaniya.”

It loosely translates as “civilian rule” and one would be hard-pressed to find somebody on the streets of Khartoum publicly opposing that goal.

Some members of the opposition alliance that organized the protests however fear that the euphoria could be short-lived and deep distrust remains between the incoming sovereign council’s main players.

While the power-sharing compromise reached earlier this month was widely hailed as the best Sudan could hope for, some members of the protest camp feel it short-changed their revolution.

Sudanese analyst Abdel Latif Al-Buni stressed however that one of the most immediate perils facing the transition was divisions within the civilian camp.

“A spirit of revenge against the former regime is dangerous,” he said. “It will lead to a clash between the former regime and the new rulers.”

The former Sudanese president faces trial on corruption charges but his fate remains unclear.


Pan-Arab poll: Biden better for region, but must shun Obama policies

Updated 26 October 2020

Pan-Arab poll: Biden better for region, but must shun Obama policies

  • Majority of respondents to Arab News/YouGov survey consider neither candidate good for region
  • Findings show strong Arab support for Trump on Iran but not on Jerusalem embassy move

RIYADH: Nearly half the respondents in an Arab News/YouGov poll conducted in 18 Middle East and Africa (MENA) countries believe neither candidate in the upcoming US elections will necessarily be good for the region.
Of the rest, 40 percent said Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden would be better for the region while 12 percent said the same thing about incumbent President Donald Trump. But a key takeaway of the poll is that if Biden, who served as vice president to Barack Obama until 2017, wins the White House race, he would be well advised to shed the Obama administration baggage.
When asked about policies implemented in the Middle East under the Obama administration, the most popular response (53 percent) was that the Democratic president left the region worse off, with another 58 percent saying Biden should distance himself from Obama-era policies.
The study surveyed a sample of 3,097 respondents online to find out how people in the MENA region feel about the Nov. 3 US elections.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Containing Iran was found to be one of the top four issues that respondents wanted the next US president to focus on. Strong support for Trump both maintaining a war posture against Iran and imposing strict sanctions against the Tehran regime was noticed in Iraq (53 percent), Lebanon (38 percent) and Yemen (54 percent), three countries that have had intimate regional dealings with Iran.
President Trump’s 2017 decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem proved overwhelmingly unpopular, with 89 percent of Arabs opposing it. Surprisingly, in contrast to most other Arabs, Palestinian respondents inside the Palestinian Territories indicated a greater desire for the US to play a bigger role in mediation with Israel.
Arab opinion was largely split on the elimination this year of Iran’s regional “satrap” Gen. Qassem Soleimani, with the single largest proportion of respondents from Iraq (57 percent) and Lebanon (41 percent) seeing it as a positive move, as opposed to those in Syria and Qatar, where most respondents — respectively 57 percent and 62 percent — saw it as negative for the region.

Iran also figured in the list of perceived threats to US interests, although well behind white nationalism (32 percent) and China (22 percent). The other critical challenges for the US as viewed by Arabs were cybercrime, radical Islamic terrorism and climate change.
For a country that touts itself as an ally of the US, public attitudes in Qatar were found to be surprisingly out of sync with US objectives in the Middle East. The perception of radical Islamic terrorism, Iran and Islamist parties as the “three biggest threats facing the region” was much softer in Qatar compared with the region as a whole.
It came as little surprise that three quarters of respondents want the next US administration to make it easier for people from Arab countries to travel to the US. The figure for Lebanon, for instance, was even higher, 79 percent, underscoring concerns that many young Arabs are actively trying to leave the region.
Among other findings, Arabs remain overwhelmingly concerned about such challenges as failed government (66 percent) and the economic slowdown (43 percent).
Close to half of the respondents (44 percent) would like to see the next US president focus on empowering young people in the Arab region and solving the Arab-Israeli conflict (44 percent), followed by containing COVID-19 (37 percent), reining in Iran and Hezbollah (24 percent), quashing radical Islamic terrorism (24 percent) and tackling climate change (17 percent).