How Sudan's protest movement is mapping out a political vision for the future
Sudan's resistance committees - the Khartoum network - recently announced a new political charter.
In doing so they have moved beyond mobilising the Sudanese streets, which was their sole focus, into a new phase; that of drawing up a political roadmap to defeat the military coup by General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan and his followers on 25 October.
The charter also lays out the basic foundations for what will come next. While the importance of this move is unquestionable, and while many are welcoming it, numerous criticisms have been voiced about its weaknesses.
However, its proponents point out that it is by no means a finished document and is open to amendment.
Resistance committees strive to become unified political force
The "Charter for the Establishment of the People's Authority" was released by the resistance committees of Khartoum state at the end of February. They were not the first to release such a document – the resistance committees of Wad Madani (central Sudan) and Maiurno (south) had already taken similar actions.
The proposed charter remains true to the slogan of the resistance committees (no partnership, no negotiation, no legitimacy) – it makes clear that any kind of partnership with the military is rejected. They also propose to cancel the August 2019 constitutional declaration in its entirety and to promote discussion of new political agreements which will be able to lead to a new constitution.
Zuhair Al-Dali, head of the Khartoum resistance committees and one of the writers of the charter, says it responds to the aspirations of the Sudanese people, puts an end to the current dysfunctional political situation, and presses for comprehensive reforms to all aspects of governance.
He says it is the product of joint efforts from all the Khartoum resistance committees, and soon it will be turned into a comprehensive document that aims to unite all the forces of the revolution.
The charter covers 12 main points. The first concerns bringing down the coup, accountability for those involved, cancelling the constitution and all the decrees passed since the Bashir regime was ousted, and the refusal of any negotiation with the coup organisers.
This last point is a clear reference to the committee's rejection of the political process sponsored by the United Nations Mission in Sudan, which aims to bring all the parties together and has so far been based on indirect negotiations.
This process was previously rejected by the committees and, to date, they have refrained from even sitting with Volker Peretz, who is heading the mission.
Learning from past mistakes
The charter proposes a two-year transitional period, which will be supervised by the committees and the revolutionary forces, and will involve the appointing of a prime minister to run sovereign and executive tasks and set up a transitional legislative council and independent commissions.
Al-Dali believes the resistance committees are well placed to lead the initiative, having learnt lessons from prior experience when they mistakenly allowed the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) to take the lead and make decisions on their behalf.
The charter also proposes reviewing the Juba Peace Agreement and recommends a national conference for peace be set up to enable Sudanese-Sudanese dialogue.
"The resistance committees are well placed to lead the initiative, having learnt lessons from prior experience when they mistakenly allowed the Forces of Freedom and Change to take the lead"
Regarding reform of the military, the charter suggests all the militias be dissolved (including the Rapid Support Forces) and a unified national army established. It proposes rebuilding the intelligence apparatus and that its new remit be restricted to gathering and classifying information before delivering it to relevant parties.
It also focuses on redesigning Sudan's economic system, to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth to alleviate the suffering of the people, enacted through the expansion of the Ministry of Finance's mandate to cover all state organisations and companies and ending the squandering of public funds.
No to foreign wars and normalisation
On foreign policy, the charter stipulates that Sudanese forces fighting in Yemen will be withdrawn, and the normalisation process with Israel will be suspended, pending scrutiny by the legislative council. Moreover it proposes Sudan will distance from conflicts between the regional powers, and pursue a foreign policy based on equality and shared interests.
Al-Dali says everybody is welcome to sign the charter with the exception of those mentioned in it. This refers to the charter's stipulation that political actors who took part in Bashir’s regime are banned from signing, as are those who took part in Burhan’s coup. It also tacitly recommends that those from the FFC that negotiated with the military council in 2019 offer up an objective critique of the experience and an apology for mistakes.
He points out that the charter is open to amendment upon consensus and aims to be inclusive of all Sudanese.
Calls for reviewing the charter
Abdalla Bashir, from the resistance committees of El-Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan state welcomes the charter, as well as "those issued by other committees, all of which share the goal of overthrowing the coup and building a civil and democratic state".
"On foreign policy, the charter stipulates that Sudanese forces fighting in Yemen will be withdrawn, and the normalisation process with Israel will be suspended, pending scrutiny by the legislative council"
But Bashir adds that "to go further, we must gather all the proposals and sit at one table to revise all the charters through a free and democratic dialogue, and reformulate them so they speak for all Sudan and not Khartoum State alone". He also suggests that representation at that table by election should be a rule.
Siddiq Youssef, leader of the Sudanese Communist Party, noted that the charter's release was timely, and the charter is one of the elements needed to push towards unifying the revolutionary and social forces, and to establish a people’s democracy. He confirmed the Communist Party would be studying the charter carefully in order to give its final opinion on it.
Youssef believes that most of the revolutionary forces would support the charter, and it would advance the Sudanese revolution. Regarding the clause requiring those that negotiated with the military over the few past years to apologise, Youssef agrees, stating that it is the duty of any party that made a mistake to apologise for it, "as the Communist Party did a year ago, when it left the Forces for Freedom and Change".
Adel Khalafallah, a leading member in the FFC, welcomes the charter as "an important step that unified the resistance committees in the state of Khartoum and brings with it opportunities for wider inter-state committee coordination".
He explained that what is required as a first step is to "unify ranks to confront a coup behind which stands the old deep state, parasitic capitalism, and regional and international alliances", but expressed reservations about the condition placed on the FFC to apologise before signing. He thinks this lays the ground for excluding forces that formed the largest political and social alliance in Sudan's history, and says preconditions shouldn’t be imposed on them.
"Such matters serve the remnants of the old regime, and extend the life of the military in power by causing cracks in the anti-coup ranks". He stresses the importance of comprehensive dialogue to secure a consensus on one final charter which corrects the mistakes in this charter.
No representation without elections
Rasha Awad, editor of online newspaper Altaghyeer, is unconvinced by the charter, saying it has made a grave error by hijacking the discussion from the masses and says it doesn't even represent all Khartoum's committees effectively, and so is not truly representative.
This, she says, is because grassroots elections were not held to choose representatives. Because of this, she expects that some of the resistance committees will withdraw their support from the charter.
Awad also has reservations about political party involvement, such as that of the Communist Party, believing that their agenda in part is to kidnap the movement with the aim of excluding other political forces.
In terms of content, she cautioned that "some of the texts need reviewing, because they don't contain implementation mechanisms, like when it talks about forming a legislative council but doesn't specify a mechanism for its formation".
This is an edited and abridged translation from our Arabic edition. To read the original article click here.
Translated by Rose Chacko