Sudden withdrawal of Sudanese army leaders from the security reform workshop
Al-Burhan is absent from the closing session
Wednesday – 7 Ramadan 1444 AH – March 29, 2023 AD
Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan (archive – Reuters)
Khartoum: Muhammad Amin Yassin
In a surprising move, representatives of the Sudanese army withdrew from the security and military reform workshop a few hours before the closing session devoted to recitation of the final recommendations reached by the participants in the workshop regarding the security and military reform process, the last issue in the final phase of the political process.
The head of the Sovereignty Council, the army commander, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, was absent from participating in the closing session.
It is widely reported that one of the reasons for the withdrawal was the army’s objection to the lack of recommendations and their failure to include scheduling processes regarding the integration of the Rapid Support Forces into the unified army.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that representatives of the police and the General Intelligence Service also withdrew from the workshop.
The official spokesman for the political process, Khaled Omar Youssef, said in a press conference that the workshop aims for security and military reform with the aim of developing the foundations and principles of the agreed perceptions of the processes of reform, merger and modernization of the security and military institutions in order to enhance the democratic transition.
He added that the workshop dealt with reform processes in all their dimensions with regard to laws, structures, military doctrine, the multiplicity of armies and forces, and the purification of regular forces from partisan political action and elements of the isolated regime.
Youssef said: Five papers were presented in the workshop on international and comparative experiences presented by national and international experts in security and military reform, indicating that the specialized committees of civilians and military personnel will continue discussions on general and final technical formulations of detailed recommendations to be included in the final agreement and published for public opinion.
The spokesman for the political process confirmed that the discussions that took place in the workshop were based on the paper of principles and foundations for the reform of the security and military sectors that were fully agreed upon between the civil and military parties, and signed on March 15, and laid the basis for resolving the main issues of reform, merger and modernization.
In turn, the designated head of the National Umma Party, Fadlallah Burmah Nasser, said that things are going well, and that the situation is moving for the better, praising the great role of the international and regional community in contributing to resolving the political crisis in the country.
For his part, the head of the African Union mission, Mohamed Belaish, praised the military and civilian leaders for participating in the workshop, noting that the military leadership affirmed in the opening session its clear commitment to establishing a professional security sector that is accountable to elected officials.
He added that the conclusion of the workshop is a tangible indication of this commitment to addressing a difficult and sensitive issue, and that the issue of integrating forces is a thorny issue in the transition, but it is necessary.
Speaking on behalf of the tripartite mechanism, Baalish said that Sudan does not need more divisions, but rather needs to adhere to the strong military establishment for the sake of Sudan’s unity and to secure its borders and stability, noting that in the absence of security and military reform, the performance of these sectors will be weak.
He added that the commitment of the Sudanese parties to the steps of reform and integration to reach a single professional army is something worthy of appreciation and admiration, announcing the mechanism’s support for these steps.
He stressed that security sector reform should be a national process to identify the security structures that the Sudanese need, and it could be a partnership with the international community, to enable Sudan to benefit from international expertise.
Mechanism spokesman Mohamed Belaish confirmed that the international community is ready to participate in the manner agreed upon by the Sudanese.
The workshop was attended by 300 people representing the regular forces (the army, the Rapid Support Forces, the police, and the General Intelligence Service), political leaders from the signatories to the political framework agreement, armed struggle movements, and political parties and groups that did not sign the framework.
The Sudanese civil and military parties had agreed to sign the final agreement on the first of next April, to sign the draft transitional constitution on the 6th of the same month, and to start forming the transitional authority by the 11th of the same month.