A roadmap for Sudan’s civilians to stop the war and regain the initiative
The forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the Central Council, concluded their meetings in Cairo (Tuesday evening), in which 45 leaders of the Sudanese civil political forces participated, with the aim of coordinating positions to end the current fighting in Sudan. Participants in the meetings said that there was a “broad state of agreement” on the need for an “immediate cessation” of the war, attention to improving the humanitarian situation, as well as the need to return to the political track prior to the outbreak of the war, by launching a “plan in which the civil forces participate and pressure to implement it strongly in coordination with regional and international powers.”
Jaafar Hassan, the official spokesman for the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, said: The meetings hosted by Cairo are “the first for the forces of the Central Council in its entirety,” noting that they sought to “jump on the pain caused by the war, and try to search for political solutions to stop” the war that some of the former regime ignited, “as he put it.
Hassan explained in a recording on the official page of “Freedom and Change” on the social networking site “Facebook”, that the meetings discussed a set of papers, including a paper on the humanitarian crisis, where it reviewed the scale of the violations, which he described as “massive by all the belligerents”, and a political paper on the proposed solutions and the need to restore the civil democratic path, and build the broadest civil front to stop the war. He pointed out that the meetings also discussed an economic paper related to ways to rebuild the Sudanese economy in the post-war phase, how to rebuild, and compensate the large numbers of people affected by the continued military confrontations.
The Sudanese Forces for Freedom and Change (the Central Council) met in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, for the first time since the outbreak of fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in mid-April, in what was described as a “defining step” in the path of restoring the role of civil forces in the Sudanese scene.
For his part, Kamal Ismail, head of the Sudanese Alliance Party, a leader in the Central Council of the Forces of Freedom and Change, said that the meetings were “an opportunity to build new steps to stand by the Sudanese people at this difficult time.” In statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ismail explained that the meetings of the Sudanese forces in Cairo witnessed a broad consensus to build a “national line-up to stop the war,” noting that the forces of “freedom and change” were even before the outbreak of the fighting “at the same distance from both sides,” referring to the military component (the Sudanese army and the “rapid support” forces).
The leader of the Central Council added that it was agreed during the meetings to launch an intensive communication campaign on the part of the forces of “freedom and change” with all Sudanese political components and forces, “except for the National Congress Party and its lackeys,” as he put it, referring to the party that was led by former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who many Sudanese political forces accuse some of the party leaders of “igniting war between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces.”
Ismail stressed that the meetings also witnessed “an agreement to launch a fully civilian transitional phase,” in addition to “demanding the prosecution of those responsible for this war that claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions, in addition to destroying the Sudanese infrastructure,” stressing the need to implement the rules of transitional justice in this regard.
After 100 days of war, the death toll from the current fighting has risen to at least 3,900 people so far, according to the non-governmental organization “Aclide”, while Sudanese medical estimates confirm that the actual death toll is much higher, and that there is difficulty in accurately counting the victims as a result of the continuation of the fighting, especially in many civilian neighborhoods.
The International Organization for Migration, affiliated with the United Nations, estimated in a report earlier this month that the conflict in Sudan has forced nearly 3 million people to flee their homes.
In an official statement, the organization said: In addition to the 2.2 million internally displaced persons in Sudan, nearly 700,000 others fled to neighboring countries. Egypt received the largest proportion of them (40 percent), followed by Chad with 28 percent, then South Sudan with 21 percent, and Ethiopia and the Central African Republic received a percentage of refugees.
The leader of the Central Council of the “Freedom and Change” forces expressed optimism about the ability of the Sudanese civil forces to cohesion and build an alliance that expresses their ability to unite in order to bring about “real change that overcomes the gaps before April 15” and achieves the Sudanese national interest similar to what the civil forces were able to achieve in the 2018 revolution, or in their response to the October measures (October).
The forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, which includes civil, political and professional groupings, played a significant role in the period of Sudanese protests that erupted at the end of 2018 and continued until the overthrow of al-Bashir’s rule. The forces of freedom and change also opposed the October 2021 measures, which included the declaration of a state of emergency, the dissolution of the government headed by Abdallah Hamdok, as well as the dissolution of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council.
On the other hand, the Sudanese writer and political researcher, Magdi Abdel Aziz, considered the meetings of the Central Council of the Forces of Freedom and Change as a “clear turning point in the positions of those forces,” noting that the forces of the “Central Council” had previously taken a “disjunctive position” to Egypt’s call for a comprehensive Sudanese dialogue, according to what was known at the time as the “Cairo Dialogue Workshop”, which Egypt hosted last February.
Abdel Aziz added to Asharq Al-Awsat that the convening of the meetings of the Forces of Freedom and Change (the Central Council) in Cairo comes at a very important time, as some of these forces faced accusations that they were a political backer of the “Rapid Support Militia,” in addition to the efforts of some forces in this movement to establish a government in exile or even call for the intervention of East African forces in Sudan to stop the war, which was adopted by countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia, which the Sudanese considered “a serious violation of the sovereignty of the state.”
The Sudanese researcher residing in Cairo indicated that what emerged from the meetings indicates a real desire to build a “new vision that differs from what was proposed before April 15,” and that the meeting in Cairo may reflect a shift in the vision of those forces regarding the roles that Egypt can play, whether in stopping the war, or in helping to build a Sudanese transitional authority on the basis of a broad political consensus that guarantees a safe transition for Sudan, which Egypt considers part of its national security.
Abdel Aziz considered the shifts in the vision of the forces of the Central Council of “Freedom and Change”, as well as the expansion of the base of dialogue and consensus, as “positive developments that serve the endeavors to establish a serious political dialogue between the Sudanese forces without exclusion”, as well as providing an opportunity to pass a safe transitional period after the cessation of the war, and through a government he describes as an “emergency government”, whose aim is to remove the effects of the war and prepare the public space for comprehensive elections with the participation of all Sudanese forces in “at least a medium time perspective”, according to his estimation.