UAE's ADNOC obtains $425m in H1 profits fueled by higher fuel demand    etisalat by e& conducts first 6GHz test in MENA region    Egypt establishes independent fund for Suez Canal    Egypt, South Korea to perform Pyramids Air Show 2022 Today    Egypt: Sisi appoints 73 female judges in the Court of First Instance    Egypt closer to export COVID vaccines after reaching 2nd highest WHO classification    Spain: prosecutor seeks 8 years sentence for Shakira over tax evasion    Egypt: Alamein Art Festival kicks off a collection of recycled installations    Russia delivers test kits of monkeypox to Egypt    John Legend enjoys family trip in Egypt    Sisi: Egypt wants to join BRICS    Egypt: street photography will no longer require permits    Sisi: Egypt determined to transition to low-carbon economy    Sisi, Biden discuss cooperation between two countries    Egypt's athlete Basma Emad wins bronze in weightlifting in Mediterranean Games    Congo needs Egypt's expertise to diversify its economy – FPI official    Noura Al-Mutair – first Gulf female boxer in World Championships    Egypt to play key role in integrating water, climate issues globally – World Bank official    Maha karara joins AAIB as Head of Corporate Communications, Sustainability    Egypt works on charting cooperation strategies with international institutions for 5 years: Al-Mashat    Over 2.4 million newborns examined for hearing impairment: Health Ministry    Netflix releases trailer of Arab adaption of 'Perfect Strangers' film    Balqees to headline concert celebrating launch of streaming giant LIVENow in MENA    Sawsan Badr to be honoured at Aswan Women Film Festival    MP Abdel Hady Al-Qasby calls government to facilitate and support NGOs    Al-Sisi follows up on 'Great Transfiguration Project' in St. Catherine    Cairo, London stress need to strengthen cooperation to face climate change    Foreigners account for 22.6% of Egypt's T-bills issuances in 1H 2021: CBE    Egypt's ambassador to Italy passes away    Egypt confirms readiness to help African countries face terrorism and extremism    An estimated 235 million people needed humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021, an increase of 40% compared to 2020: IOM Egypt    Egypt, DRC discuss water cooperation during WYF    Egypt, DR Congo discuss boosting bilateral cooperation during WYF    Cameroonian police probe assault on three Algerian journalists covering AFCON    Pharaohs start AFCON 2021 campaign with fierce clash against Nigeria    Foreign Ministry opens capacity building course for French-speaking African diplomats    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



Brave new Sudan
Published in Ahram Online on 16 - 02 - 2021

A long-awaited government in Sudan was announced last week amid violent protests decrying the dire economic conditions, which were the key reason behind mobilising the Sudanese people in a historic uprising in 2019 that led to the ouster of the Omar Al-Bashir's regime.
Today, with the same levels of poverty and economic meltdown, a new government is taking over. It faces, in addition to traditional problems, such complicated files as tackling the stormy relations with neighbouring Addis Ababa and waves of opposition due to the normalisation deal with Israel.
A new, 25-member government replaced a caretaker cabinet of technocrats that has been running the country since July last year. It includes seven ex-rebel chiefs as ministers, in the framework of a power-sharing deal which the transitional authorities struck last year with a rebel alliance fighting government forces in the west and south. Days before announcing the new government, Sudan's Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok dissolved the previous cabinet which only includes two ministers from the military, with the remaining coming from the Forces for Freedom and Change group, which was the driving force behind the anti-government protests that toppled Al-Bashir.
However, Sudanese demands remain the same. Protests continued across the country's main cities ahead of installing the new government, demanding better economic conditions.
Sudan faces towering economic challenges, including a huge budget deficit and widespread shortages of essential goods and soaring prices of bread and other staples. The country is $70 billion in debt and its annual inflation rose beyond 200 per cent in the past months, along with chronic hard currency shortages and a flourishing black market.
After his swearing-in, Minister of Cabinet Affairs Khaled Omar stated that the government would prioritise alleviating the people's economic suffering and make peace with other rebel groups that did not join last year's deal.
But the economic challenges are one aspect of the problem awaiting a resolution from the new government of Sudan. Forming a government based on diverse political groups from different backgrounds was a dream sought by pro-democracy advocates in Sudan. However, the government's teamwork has yet to be questioned especially in the light of the various challenges besetting the country. It is a fact that governments based on political quotas usually face complications and have conflicting objectives, a case in which political goals could be prioritised over civilian and economic ones.
“It is not going to be easy for this coalition because the challenges it faces are many,” Prime Minister Hamdok said at the press conference following the new cabinet's declaration.
Speaking about the obstacles that may face the newly formed government of Sudan, Samuel Ramani, an international relations specialist at the University of Oxford, warned, “the continued frictions between Sudan's military and civilian authorities, as well as substantial regional cleavages and inequities could prevent a national recovery plan from taking shape.”
Although the protesters are still taking to the streets, urged by different demands, they are still sticking to a glimmer of hope for the country's progress towards a democratic transition and the potential transition to full-fledged civilian rule in 2022. “There is a mood of cautious optimism in Sudan, which did not exist under Bashir's tenure, but one that is laced with trepidations about what might go wrong in the future,” Ramani told Al-Ahram Weekly.
Foreign interference in Sudan's affairs, according to Ramani, is one of the issues worrying the Sudanese about realising a change. “The interference of foreign powers, such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and to a lesser extent, Turkey, is concerning for Sudan's sovereignty and long-term stability,” Ramani explained.
With renewed anti-government waves of protests countrywide and the security's use of force against protesters, Jihad Mashamoun, a political analyst in Sudanese and African affairs, believes that the government can contain such a critical situation through “dialogue, discussing the challenges facing the country during the current phase”.
Mashamoun noted that holding a national dialogue with protest groups would obviate “looting and violence and security tensions”. Protesters in the days before the ousting of Al-Bashir intentionally carried out violent acts as a pretext for a “military takeover”, according to Mashamoun's comment to the Weekly. He emphasised that the country should avoid a repetition of such a scenario.
Washington's removal of Sudan from the terror blacklist after it normalised ties with Israel, despite being beneficial for the country's ailing economy as the decision will lift economic sanctions on Khartoum, still generates public criticism.
Ramani remarked that the normalisation move is an “unpopular” one and “could exacerbate the already parlous state of civil-military relations in Sudan. The Sudanese military and Rapid Support Forces were the chief backers of normalisation with Israel and reportedly engaged with Israel without the consent of the civilian authorities or Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.”
As for Mashamoun, he reiterated that the military is “keen to normalise the relations” as there were visits from Israeli military and intelligence officers to Sudan lately. But he clarified that this decision is a “prerogative of the legislative council that is unlikely to accept the normalisation of ties.”
The creation of a 300-seat legislative assembley will take place on 25 February, according to an official timeline, where rebel representatives will take up 25 per cent of the seats.
Tensions on the Sudanese-Ethiopian border can be an added burden to the new government. Military unrest between Sudan and Ethiopia has been recurrent in the Fashaqa border areas in the light of the failure to fully demarcate the borders between the two countries.
“The Sudanese military went for un-calculated adventurism in the conflict on borders with Ethiopia where it wanted to enter a winnable fight to reclaim Sudanese territory. However, the military didn't expect a backlash from the pro-Ethiopian Shifta militia, which has been occupying the area for a decade,” said Mashamoun.
He stressed that the military, led by Lt General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, will “take responsibility for using diplomacy with Ethiopia to de-escalate the matter”.
Ramani also added that “Sudan's mobilisation of troops on the Ethiopian border in response to the Tigray conflict increases the risk of an accidental Sudan-Ethiopia conflict, which could undermine the stability of the Horn of Africa.”
The Sudanese government has numerous questions to answer and popular demands to fulfill, not limited to the economic grievances caused by the unequal distribution of wealth and poor resource management. Sudan has already been facing continued conflict in Darfur since 2000s. Despite the October peace deal, violence breaks out continually in Darfur, a vast and impoverished region awash with weapons where bitter rivalries over land and water remain. What is more, Sudan has to handle a long-running negotiation, along with Egypt, over the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. Meanwhile the Covid-19 pandemic proceeds unchecked, especially in urban areas of the country.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 18 February, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly


Clic here to read the story from its source.