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Saudi Arabia and Emirates join forces to try to resolve Sudan's political crisis

Several Arab countries led by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are continuing their attempts to put an end to the serious Sudanese crisis after the UN initiative failed to achieve its objectives
A boy with a Sudanese flag on his back amid the smoke of protests

FILE/PHOTO  -   Protests in Sudan

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, president of the Sovereign Council of Sudan, discussed the serious political crisis in his country with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates during his trip to the two territories. The Arab initiative led by Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Cairo seeks to restore Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, who resigned in January just six weeks after being reinstated.  

The project also proposes to develop a series of radical solutions to overcome mistrust between the civilian and military components. The formation of a Sovereign Council and a Security and Defence Council headed by Hamdok and Al-Burhan, respectively, is another objective of the Saudi and Emirati nations.

AFP/ASHRAF SHAZLY  -   El general de alto rango del ejército sudanés, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, ofrece una conferencia de prensa en el Comando General de las Fuerzas Armadas en Jartum el 26 de octubre de 2021
AFP/ASHRAF SHAZLY  -   Sudanese army senior general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan addresses a news conference at the General Command of the Armed Forces in Khartoum October 26, 2021

A Ministerial Council that distances itself from any partisan tendencies, and a Legislative Council that includes resistance and revolutionary movement committees in its membership, are also being pursued.  

The news of Hamdok's return coincided with Al-Burhan's meeting with the crown princes of Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. Sudanese reports indicate that during these talks a number of ways were proposed to resolve the crisis in Sudan and overcome the obstacles that prevented its launch.  

REUTERS/SARAH MEYSSONNIER - El Primer Ministro de Sudán, Abdalla Hamdok, asiste a una conferencia de prensa durante la Conferencia Internacional en apoyo a Sudán en el Grand Palais Temporal en París, Francia, el 17 de mayo de 2021
REUTERS/SARAH MEYSSONNIER - Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok attends a news conference during the International Conference in support of Sudan at the Grand Palais Temporal in Paris, France May 17, 2021

Talk of the prime minister's return does not meet with the official approval of the authorities. Despite this, some revolutionary forces have included this fact in their speeches and pronouncements. Hamdok's return to office depends primarily on an agreement with the country's military faction.  

Observers argue that the factions of the revolution at the forefront of the protests represent the first obstacle to be addressed. Resistance committees have expressed their strong rejection of the president's return as a sign of the political sphere's failure to develop the state. 

PHOTO/ARCHIVO – Protestas en Sudán
PHOTO/ARCHIVO – Protests in Sudan

"It is neither right nor wise to repeat the mistakes, that appointing the prime minister of any party was a hijacking of the people's authority and a dedication to the emergence of a new political incubator and a new elite that dominates power," Al Arab agency highlights from the communiqué issued jointly by the revolutionaries.  

Abdullah Hamdok took over as leader in August 2019 after the signing of the constitutional document between the army and civilian forces. His main task was to focus on managing the transitional period, which is supposed to end in early 2024. However, he was removed from office in October last year after a house arrest warrant was issued.  

Many of his supporters are pushing for him to lead the remainder of the transitional phase as he enjoys a wide external and internal acceptance that other political figures do not. They argue that, in the first two years, he achieved a number of goals, including the return of Khartoum to the international community and the end of US sanctions imposed more than 20 years ago.  

His cabinet also reached understandings with the International Monetary Forum and the World Bank on the region's foreign debt. In the last months of his term, the population witnessed great stability in the exchange rate of his currency against the dollar.  

There is hope that the politician will become "a saviour from the economic deterioration that the country has been witnessing since the al-Burhan proceedings". Bread and fuel prices are skyrocketing, and the measures taken by the government in early March to liberalise the exchange rate of the Sudanese pound are not enough. 

Prior to these reforms, the price of the local currency in the banks was 445 pounds to the dollar compared to the current value of 600 pounds. The people are eagerly awaiting any attempt at improvement as a result of the political, economic and social deterioration their country is going through

A source close to the former prime minister makes it clear that he does not expect the president to accept a proposal that would put him back in the political spotlight. But he also adds that "he has knowledge and tools that make him reluctant to repeat an experiment that he knows will not succeed in the current political situation".  

Youssef Hamad, a political analyst, believes that the senior Sudanese official has no objection to working with the military, even though he is still aware of the failure of his first attempt to sign an agreement with the army commander. "What reinforces this step are the cases of defections from the political forces, and he can certainly benefit from that"

-	PHOTO/AP  -   El domingo 2 de enero de 2021, Hamdok anunció su dimisión en medio del estancamiento político y de las protestas generalizadas a favor de la democracia tras un golpe militar que hizo descarrilar la frágil transición del país hacia un régimen democrático
PHOTO/AP  -  On Sunday, Jan. 2, 2021, Hamdok announced his resignation amid political deadlock and widespread pro-democracy protests following a military coup that derailed the country's fragile transition to democratic rule

Hamdok's departure provoked a crisis in the civilian and military components. The latter were unable to form an internally and externally recognised regime, and are aware that imposing their control by force will not be acceptable and beneficial to either side. Civilians, on the other hand, are divided in their perceptions and jurisprudence, and have a considerable lack of leadership.  

All of this gives it some sympathy among a segment that sees it as the most suitable option for the new political phase in Sudan. The inability of Sudanese forces to end the crisis, the failure of the UN plan to calm the waters and the vacant position of head of government are the perfect mix for Abdullah Hamdok to turn down the offer