Sudan’s military chief and Chair of the Sovereign Council General Abdel-Fattah Burhan recently announced the military will cease participation in political talks and will withdraw from the political scene when Sudan’s civilian parties form a transitional government.
If the military follows through on this commitment, Sudan’s pro-democracy parties can put its transition to democratic governance, which started after a popular uprising ousted long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019, back on track.
That transition was derailed eight months ago in a military takeover led by General Burhan. Massive protests followed and were met with violence, repression and often lethal force applied by military authorities. After the takeover, Sudan’s economic crisis continued to deepen, with foreign investment and international trade being negatively affected by the political turmoil.
In a joint statement, the European Union and members of the Troika -- Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States –- acknowledged the announcement by General Berhan of the military forces’ willingness to hand power back to civilians.
“The military and security forces should be held to this commitment,” they wrote. “They must also end violence against civilians and hold to account those responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights violations and abuses.”
The EU and the Troika called on all parties committed to Sudan’s democratic transition “to engage swiftly in an inclusive dialogue to form a civilian-led transitional government.” They underscored the need for a clear timeline for free and fair elections in Sudan; procedures for selecting a transitional prime minister and other key officials; and a dispute resolution mechanism to help avoid future political crises. They noted that a transitional government must be civilian led and have broad-based, nation-wide support; and that the role and oversight of the military must be clearly defined.
“Nearly three years since Sudan began its transition to democracy, we deeply regret the continued loss of life, and reversal of important economic and political progress,” they wrote. “We commend the devotion of the Sudanese people to a more peaceful and just future and honor the sacrifices of those who have lost their lives in support of democracy. The Troika and the European Union look forward to supporting a transitional civilian government that enjoys popular support, reflecting the hope and aspirations we share with the Sudanese people.”