Call for protests in Sudan as deal on civilian rule delayed again

Second delay of signing ceremony in a week is due to continued disputes between the military and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group.

Sudan militia
Members of Sudan's Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group [File: Umit Bektas/Reuters]

Sudan’s main pro-democracy bloc has called for protests after the signing of a deal to set the military-ruled country on the course of a democratic transition was once again delayed due to disagreements between security factions.

The Forces of Freedom and Change said in a statement on Wednesday that the signing ceremony scheduled for Thursday had been pushed back again “due to a resumption of talks between soldiers” on April 1 and Thursday.

The bloc urged people across the country to hold peaceful demonstrations on Thursday for “freedom, peace and justice”. Security was beefed up in the capital, Khartoum, and its surrounding areas ahead of the protests, reports said.

Security reforms have been a key point of contention in negotiations held in the past weeks. They have built on a preliminary accord reached in December to install a civilian-led government after near-weekly protests have been held since a 2021 coup, in which Sudan’s military leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, seized power.

The coup derailed Sudan’s short-lived path to democracy after the 2019 removal of former President Omar al-Bashir, ending his three-decade rule.

Experts said the sticking point in the proposed reforms is the integration into the regular army of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful paramilitary group led by al-Burhan’s deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

The two men have been at loggerheads over the timetable for the RSF’s integration, and analysts have pointed to a deepening rift between them.

The pro-democracy bloc’s statement said progress had been made on several points during the talks but one final issue remained. That led to the second delay in a week of the signing of the deal to name a civilian-led government that is to oversee elections in two years.

A draft of the deal obtained by The Associated Press news agency said the military would be restricted to only military actions and there would be the formation of a unified, non-partisan national military.

Some pro-democracy protest groups have opposed the deal, demanding additional judicial and security reforms.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies