Rejuvenating the Resistance Committees to a Vanguard Political Entity Through the Tripartite Mechanism

Professor Mekki El Shibly
Executive Director – Mamoun Behairy Center


On January 8, 2022, Volker Perthes, the representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), launched a consultative process to address the political impasse in Sudan that was exacerbated by the October 25, 2022 coup. The UN official conducted preliminary consultations with stakeholders, including the military authority, political actors, particularly the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), peace partners, armed movements, civil society, Resistance Committees (RCs), and women’s groups and youth. UNITAMS affirmed its readiness to take additional steps, including involving regional entities in the consultative dialogue process. Subsequently, the African Union envoy Mohamed Elhassan Ould Labat and the representative of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Ismail Wais joined the UN initiative forming what is known as the tripartite mechanism which adopted direct dialogue between the stakeholders after the consultations conducted by Volker Perthes over a period of five months.

Dialogue or Warfare to Achieve the Civil State and Defuse the Political Impasse:

Thirty-seven months after the transition, seven months after the October coup, and five months after the UN initiative, the international, regional, and local communities are grossly disturbed by the continuation of the political impasse that has engulfed the Sudanese arena. Their apprehension was exacerbated by the outbreak of armed conflicts with dire consequences at the local, regional and international levels. Accordingly, the political scene was dominated by international and regional efforts to achieve a breakthrough to resolve the Sudanese political crisis, particularly after October 25 coup through facilitated dialogue. Evidence indicates that this breakthrough represents the last chance for the parties to resolve the crisis peacefully by achieving full civilian rule without resorting to inclusive armed conflict.

Requisite Environment and Tagline for  Inspiring the Success of the Facilitated Dialogue:

Initiating the appropriate environment for the dialogue involves actual actions before and during the dialogue. The contributary measures already taken by the military authority include releasing members of the Committee for Dismantling the Regime of June 30, 1989, lifting the state of emergency, and releasing members of RCs. The remaining crucial ingredient for an inspiring environment for the dialogue includes the adoption of a persuasive slogan. The adopted dialogue slogan must contain an explicit tagline reflecting how to hand over power to civilians, and not a dialogue about the principle of power hand-overs. Accordingly, the slogan of the dialogue should be: Accomplishing the Transfer of Power to Civilians.

Participation of National Centers of Excellence and Think Tanks In Facilitating the Dialogue:

The glorious December revolution crystallized a nationwide consensus that national entities should play a prominent role in efforts to achieve the goals of the transitional period by ensuring national ownership of the outputs. To add a homegrown characteristic to the success of the tripartite mechanism, there is a need to involve representatives of the Centers of Excellence and National Think in facilitating the dialogue between the participants in the current political impasse in Sudan.

The Three No’s of RCs (No Dialogue, No Partnership, No Legitimacy) – Tactical or Strategic?

RCs continued to adhere to a strict negative stance against the principle of dialogue with the military coup leaders. Nevertheless, the dire situation in Sudan calls for RCs to crown their steadfastness on the streets by showcasing their wisdom and political acumen in differentiating between strategic and tactical positions. RCS’ well-deserved dominance of the political scene in Sudan is demonstrated in their daring resistance to thwarting the October coup, and their legitimate aspiration to play a vanguard role in Sudan’s political future requires their realization that the Three No’s represent a tactical weapon whose advocacy has helped to prevent the coup from achieving its hoped-for goals. Now that RCs have succeeded in achieving this goal, it is time to adopt the tactic of dialogue “no negotiation” on how to hand over power to civilians and achieve the strategic goal of ending military dominance over the transitional period empowered by reliable regional and international guarantees. Needless to say, RCs’ tested intensity to return to the tactic of daring field confrontation against military rule represents the veritable guarantee for achieving the strategic goal of civilian rule in case the facilitated dialogue fails to achieve it within a specified period of time.

Implications of RCs’ Feedback to the Facilitated Dialogue:

RCs showcased locally, regionally, and internationally remarkable capacities to contain the coup through stubborn resistance. Their solidity assured all of its abilities to protect its gains with its innovative resistance techniques. As a result, the local and international communities are waiting for RCs to reveal political skills that justify their aspiration to play a significant political role in the formation of the new Sudan. This expected characteristic is embodied in RCs showing their ingenuity in changing their tactical position represented by the Three No’s in response to the requirements of the situation, without compromising the strategic positions of achieving full civil transfer of power. The failure of RCs to publicize their political capabilities at this intricate juncture will deduct substantially from the gains they have achieved at the field level and detract from their meritorious opportunities to lead the political scene in the future.

Conversely, RCs’ disclosure of wisdom and prudence in resolving the current political impasse opens for them wide prospects to receive inexhaustible support locally and internationally to build the aspired hierarchical organization required for transforming RCs into rational political entities worthy of leading Sudan to democratic transformation. Success in achieving this goal requires RCs to engage directly in intensive capacity-building programs which conserve independence and enhance their political and organizational awareness to complement their remarkable ingenuity in effective field resistance. Given the vital significance of capacity-building programs for RCs in the future of Sudan, UNITAMS and its international partners should promptly initiate the implementation of these programs in cooperation with national Centers of Excellence and Think Tanks.

The ramification of the FFC and Communist Party’s Acquiescence to RCs:

FFC (Central Council), Sudan Professionals Association, and the Communist Party found themselves obliged to maintain their claim of political leadership against the October 2021 coup by succumbing to RCs who lack political acumen. Their submission to RCs led them to fall into the political pitfalls of the Three RCs No’s. This negatively influenced their response to the internationally facilitated dialogue which requires vigilant political handling contrary to their blatant rejection of the principle of dialogue. Despite the impressive field success achieved by RCs in containing the coup, the submission of the politicians to their leadership in opposing the dialogue will lead these politicians to ultimately collide with the international community, which classifies the politicians who reject dialogue as a threat to national, regional and international peace. Furthermore, RCs’ possible conditional approval to engage in the facilitated dialogue will expose FFC and the Communist Party to either the dilemma of isolation or the ordeal of contradicting positions if they agreed eventually to participate in the dialogue despite their initial repudiation.

Consequences of FFC and the Military Reaction to the Facilitated Dialogue:

 Despite the fragmentation that plagued the FFC since the outbreak of the December 2018 revolution and during the transitional period, it is still a significant player in the Sudanese political scene, especially if its two wings (the Central Council and the National Charter) agree through the facilitated dialogue to adhere to the principles of the glorious December revolution by signing a political declaration affirming commitment to the civil state, denunciation of military coups, and running state institutions during the transition by highly qualified, independent national personnel to achieve sustainable peace and economic recovery on the way t the aspired democratic system. On the other hand, the continuation of the differing visions among the military about the structure of the armed forces undermines their expected role during transition and beyond.

Hence, it became necessary for the civil and military parties to benefit from the experience of their turbulent partnership lasting thirty months of conflict at the Sovereignty Council and Cabinet levels. In this regard, the facilitated dialogue between civilians and the military should lead to a new approach to the necessary cooperation between them outside the framework of the previous partnership. This requires both of them to act as statesmen and not as civilians and military personnel. They must also realize that the failure of either side to achieve this desired cooperation will lose, not only at the important local level but may be subject to grievous international sanctions. On the other hand, their success in the dialogue creates an environment conducive to overcoming the political impasse and opens up broad prospects for the civilians and the military alike to participate in building the new Sudan by achieving full civility and the expected democratic transformation.

Nexus between the Facilitated Dialogue and Juba Peace Agreement:

Juba Peace Agreement constituted an important landmark in the course of the transition, striking mixed success. While its successes were reaped by leaders of some armed movements in Darfur and Blue Nile states, its failures were witnessed in many states, especially the eastern, central, and northern states. Added to this is the refutation it received from Sudan People’s Liberation Movement led by Abdel Aziz Elhelo, and Sudan Liberation Army Movement led by Abdel Wahid Nour.

Furthermore, during the actual implementation of the agreement, multiple deficiencies were witnessed prompting the mediation of South Sudan to address them before the deterioration of the political scene after the October 2021 coup. On the other hand, the failure of the agreement to achieve security and economic recovery for those directly affected by the conflict was conspicuous.

Consequently, there is a need for the facilitated dialogue to review the provisions of the Juba Agreement, which contributed to the deterioration of security and economic conditions in the country. Furthermore, the dialogue should enliven the participation of the international community in providing the financial and technical needs for the implementation of the revisited Juba Peace Agreement. This may require the participation of the State of South Sudan in this particular item of the dialogue agenda.

Constitutional, Sovereign, Legislative, Justice, and Executive Pillars of the Facilitated Dialogue:

In the aftermath of the October coup, RCs and FFC called for the preparation of a new Constitutional Declaration to govern the remainder of the transitional period to replace the controversial Constitutional Document. Evidence, however, reveals that consensus on the new Constitutional Declaration in the prevalent impasse suffered by all the participants in the glorious December revolution is extremely strenuous to achieve. Accordingly, it is necessary to avoid a repetition of the difficult labor encountered in approving the Constitutional Document in 2019.

This necessitates settling for amending the Constitutional Document by incorporating the ideas advocated by RCs and FFC in the proposed Constitutional Declaration. This includes the introduction of paragraphs explicitly stipulating the dissolution of the partnership between civilians and the military, especially in the Sovereignty Council, whose chair and limited membership should be assigned to independent national civilian competencies. Serious effort is also required to broaden the scope of consensus on amending the Constitutional Document by accompanying the movements that have not yet signed the Juba Peace Agreement.

As for the legislative, judicial, and executive pillars of the dialogue, the agreement is required from the dialogue participants to fill the institutions related to these pillars with independent, highly qualified national personnel. To avoid the shortcomings that accompanied the selection of these competencies during the elapsed period of transition, the focus should be placed on qualified independent cadres who possess continuous local experience, leaving limited room for some independent competencies with accumulated experiences at regional and international levels. The patriotic responsibility of these qualified independent teams requires exerting enduring efforts to make the remainder of the transitional period an environment of justice, tolerance, and harmony in preparation for the anticipated democratic transition.

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