Omer B. Abu Haraz
The ongoing talks in Juba between the transitional government and SPLM/A (Al-Hilu faction) look promising and are expected to result in a different peace agreement. The framework draft presented by Al-Hilu is well-prepared but it includes sticky and controversial issues. It did not consider the expected aspirations of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) of realizing the Juba Peace Agreement of last October 2020 in its national articles by adding to it rather than contradicting some of the agreed-upon issues. Reaching an agreement with Al-Hilu is not an easy job. I expect to extend the talks beyond the two weeks set by the brokers.
The difficulty in reaching an agreement lies in:
- The inclusion of SPLM-N Blue Nile Sector.
- Relation between religion and state.
- Type of governance –Presidential or parliamentary.
- Priorities of implementation of a compensation and inclusive peace agreement
The inclusion of Darfur in the framework draft alarmed the signatories of SRF in the Juba Peace Agreement of October 2020.
They immediately met with a general broker about this, saying that they expected Al-Hilu to restrict his talks proposals to his area of South Kordofan.
As for the inclusion of the SPLM-N Blue Nile Sector, they believe that for this sector the peace issues were resolved and the leader of the sector is one of the signatories of the last agreement of October 2020 and by virtue of this Malik Agar is now a member of the Sovereign Council
The draft also included annoying issues of renaming the two areas different to that of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 which called the two areas S. Kordofan and the Blue Nile. The draft presented talks about Nuba Mountains and Funj. CPA insisted on geographical naming and avoiding ethnicity and tribalism which seriously jeopardize the objective of a comprehensive sustainable peace in Sudan. Ethnic and tribal naming o does not demarcate a specific geographical area in Sudan.
The issue of the secular or civil state is still controversial albeit the agreements previously signed with Al-Hilu by the Prime Minister Dr. Hamdok and General Burhan in two separate Declarations of Principles in different timings and venues, The religious state option is definitely out of question. To strike a consensus on this issue the ongoing talks might opt for agreeing on a term defining the civilian government as the one equidistant from all religions and restricting religion to personal affairs only for instance – marriage, divorce, wealth distribution after death, etc.
Regarding the type of governance – Presidential or Parliamentary – I agree with the proposal of the framework draft which calls for Presidential Democratic Rule. Sudan, since independence opted for a failed Parliamentary system. Failed because it did not lead to a stable, productive, and strong rule which resulted in three military coups which ruled 80% of the years after independence.
Opponents to the Presidential system must not consider the two systems of Numeiri and Al-Bashir as a democratic presidential system. Both were distorted autocratic types of governance. Presidential democratic civilian governance comes as a product of transparent and credible general elections. Presidents elected will be closely and restrictively guided by a constitution passed by a parliament which gives it strength over than president plus an independent judiciary body.
The last issue in the draft of the framework is the issue of priorities. Political arrangements must have a top priority. It includes Reconciliations, power-sharing in government and legislative council, and a system of Federal Rule. I think this as a top priority is wise and far-sighted as all other issues cannot be resolved and implemented before political stability.