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US backs Sudan transition deal fearing state collapse

SUDAN’s sovereign council of soldiers and civilians will lead Sudan for 3 years. Sudan situation is still fragile, there are still spoilers out there. The fact that Hemeti remains in power is problematic. Money from Saudi Arabia that used to go to the RSF would now back the transition. RSF forces have fought as ground troops for the Saudi-led coalition in their war against the Houthis in Yemen. US backs Sudan transition deal for fear of state collapse. Full story here below.
From The Financial Times
Published: Thursday 11 July 2019 
Title: Sovereign council of soldiers and civilians will lead country for 3 years
Photo: Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces are feared by demonstrators © AP
The US has thrown its weight behind the power-sharing deal struck between Sudan’s military leaders and civilian groups, fearing that the alternative was a descent into state failure and violence.
“The situation is still fragile; there are still spoilers out there,” Tibor Nagy, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said in London. The deal was “absolutely a step forward” he added. 
“Out of all the scenarios out there some of the outcomes could have been extremely negative. We could have had the Somalia [or] Libya model, which is the absolute last thing that either Egypt or Ethiopia needed,” he added.
Mr Nagy had just returned from Sudan, where he met the political and military factions that unseated Omar al-Bashir in April after months of protest. Mr Bashir had been in power for three decades. Sudanese officials and activists credit US pressure, along with Gulf countries and regional negotiators, with bringing the two sides to an agreement.
While the US supported the political transition, Mr Nagy said it would not become involved in the details of any agreement between the ruling transitional military council and civilian groups. “Our goal is to achieve this transition that is acceptable to the Sudanese people, [but] it’s not for us to get into the sausage making,” he said.
The power-sharing deal, which is expected to be signed this week, grants five of the 11 seats on a “sovereign council” to civilians. Another five seats will go to the military. The final seat will go to a consensus appointment. The council, which will rule Sudan during a three-year transition period, will be led at first by a military representative before switching to a civilian.
The deal is a muted victory for protesters who had been campaigning for an immediate transition to democratic civilian rule.
Their hopes though of a bloodless revolution were shattered when Rapid Support Force (RSF) troops raided encampments and hospitals on the night of June 3, killing more than 100 people, according to protesters.
The US has called for an independent investigation into the killings but is separating that from any political settlement. That approach, however, has been criticised because the commander of the RSF, Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan, known as Hemeti, remains an important figure in the ruling military council.
“The fact that Hemeti remains in power is problematic. As commander of the RSF for all these years he’s implicated in serious crimes, not only in Khartoum but in Darfur” and elsewhere in the country, says Jehanne Henry, associate director in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch. “Until there’s accountability, the peace will not hold.”
Mr Nagy said the crackdown was “a separate issue. It’s very important for us not to get into [accusing] this person, that person. We have to focus on the outcome because that’s the most important thing for Sudan”.
Gulf allies, who have provided funding and support to Lt Gen Hamdan and the RSF, have also backed the deal, Mr Nagy said, while money from Saudi Arabia that used to go to the RSF would now back the transition. RSF forces have fought as ground troops for the Saudi-led coalition in their war against the Houthis in Yemen.

But Mr Nagy admitted the deal could still fall apart. He said there were fears that supporters of Mr Bashir could try to restore the old regime to power or that an unstable Sudan could allow radical groups to flourish. The return of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist organisation with links across the Arab world that briefly held power in Egypt is 2012, was “definitely is a concern”, he said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
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