Sudan deal delayed as army factions fail to agree on return to civilian rule

By Michael Fitzpatrick - RFI
APR 1, 2023 LISTEN

Sudanese leaders have postponed the signing of an agreement planned for Saturday. The deal was intended to pave the way for a return to democratic government, an official said, blaming the delay on continued disagreement between military factions.

Representatives have for weeks been negotiating an agreement, the final part in a two-phase political process launched last December and intended to set out the terms for reviving the transition to civilian-led rule and democratic elections following the 2019 ouster of President Omar al-Bashir..

Instead of the long-awaited ceremony expected on Saturday, officials are to meet to "agree on a new date for signing the final political accord, which could not be signed" due to "the lack of consensus on certain issues", a spokesman said in a statement.

Reform of the security forces is a key point of contention in the talks, which envisage the departure of army generals from politics once a civilian government is installed.

Critics have decried as "vague" the December deal, agreed after near-weekly protests since a 2021 coup.

What future for Rapid Support Forces?

The proposed reforms include the integration into the regular army of the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, second in command to the 2021 coup leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Created in 2013, the RSF emerged from the Janjaweed militia that Bashir had unleashed a decade earlier in the western region of Darfur against non-Arab rebels. The militia has since been accused by rights groups of having committed war crimes.

While experts have pointed to worrying rivalries between Burhan and Daglo, the two men appeared side by side last week, speaking in the capital Khartoum to plead for a successful integration.

Talks have stalled since, according to observers, with persistent disputes over a timetable for the RSF's integration.