There is a major consensus that the present period is one of the most critical in the history of Sudan and the present general in the Transitional Military Council TMC will either be wise and national patriotic and hand over the power to a civilian government or alternatively if alienage to protect and support narrow interests will lead the country to the road of no return, the road to quays and the disintegration of the 2/3 of the Sudan that the ousted dictator left for us. These questions and issues have been the focus of an interview with the reputable political writer and journalist, and who is recognized as the Dean of Sudanese journalist, Mahgoub Mohamed Salih.
Q: Can you give a general view of the current situation, and the objectives and the challenges that will face the democratic transition period?
A: The, Freedom and Change Forces (FCF) has a charter for the tasks of the transitional period and the re-construction of the state instructions in the transitional period. When we talk about the institutions of the state, we mean the executive, legislative and sovereign institutions.
There is no difficulty in the formation of the legislative and executive institutions, the TMC (Transitional Military Council) agreed that the FCF submit the names of the ministers for endorsement. Also, the political parties who are members in the FCF have announced that they will not participate as parties in the cabinet and the idea under discussion is the formation of a cabinet of competent experts that is a council of technocrats who are experts in their technical field. This, by nature, does not lead to major or significant differences. Also, there is an agreement in principle between the two parties on this issue. The names of 18 ministries were submitted, and on the other hand, the military council approved 18 ministries. If there is disagreement over one name or two, it will not cause a problem. There is a proposal of a transitional legislative council of 120 members may reach 150 or 200. (Editor; the interview took place before the agreement between the TMC and FCF on a 300 members Legislative Assembly).
The problem is on the sovereign council issue, the military council wants to dominate the sovereign council, and I think here there will be two problems.
The first problem is that the TMC wants to dominate the sovereign council. The second problem is what the mandate and powers of the Sovereign Council. I think that if you want to talk about a head of state, you must decide whether this is will be presidential or parliamentary state or a mixed republic.
Sudan Historically, when a democratic system was established after a totalitarian system, a parliamentary democratic system was installed that is a regimes established on a parliamentary republic with the head of state with symbolic powers, whereas the real authority of the prime minister is accountable to parliament. This is the parliamentary republic.
There is no difficulty in its implementation.
But there must be a basic agreement. We want a transition to a civilian government. If the military council insists on presidential powers and a military council, the world will considers that what happened in Sudan is a military coup and refuses to recognize it.
This began with the African Union, which gave a three-month deadline for a transition to a civilian governance, so it is in the interest of the military council and the rebels to reach agreement on the basis of civilian rule so as not to label the regime a military coup.
It is very important and critical that the regime is not labeled a military coup as this will deprives Sudan from any of the much needed regional and international support and aid at the present economic crises the country is going through, also it will make it very difficult to remove the country name from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, and makes it very difficult to get a debt relief.
The second point of disagreement is the first period of transition and the difference between four years, as freedom and change say, and two years, according to the military council,
It is a simple disagreement that can be addressed, but the logic behind the four years is the strongest and most important according to our historical experience in Sudan. (Editor, after this interview the TMC and the FCF agreed on a three period term).
The international community, the Americans and the Africans speak out and say, “No more than one year, because we do not accept democratic rule without elections, rush to elections”
This will lead to aborting the democratic transition.
Since the elections before the preparation of the field for honest competition and before granting the required time to the political force to arrange their positions because they were deprived of the exercise of political activity for thirty years and its infrastructure marginalized.
Its cadre’s scattered and young people did not find the opportunity for training and field on political activity and democracy, there is a fragile situation will come with fragile results.
The second matter is that we are living in an economic crisis and it does not allow us in a short time to restore political, security and economic stability.
Third, we had internal wars, displaced people, refugees and expatriates. First, we must build the conducive environment for peace and stability in Sudan and restore the cohesion in the Sudanese society and to achieve a peaceful environment that will allows people to return to their cities and villages which they have been abandoned during the years of conflicts and to rebuild their lives and settle down and then they can freely vote.
So, that ,we will not be subjected to false results in an elections that are not real, and therefore we are much aware of our realties and future and believe that the international community should understand our circumstances and our national situation.
And, even if the military council wants to end its existence within two years, there is no problem. People can lead an internal political dialogue to add another two years to the transitional period according to the transitional reconstruction program if the political forces get rid of selfishness and reach a comprehensive agreement in favor of democracy.
Q: Can you explain the subject of the agreement on the additional two years?
A: I think if we agree on the transition from a military council rule to a civilian governance, we would be able easily after the end of the military presence, that the cabinet and parliament call on all the parties to a dialogue to reach an agreement to extend the transitional period, even if there is a need for a cabinet reshuffle.
In this respect, Sudan has a similar experience during the transitional period before independence (1952-1956), when the parliament at that time by consensus agreed to shorten the transitional period and end it in Dec.1955 and not 1956 and declare independence in January,1956. So, if by Sudanese consensus, we were able to amend an international agreement with the United Kingdom and Egypt, it is much easier I think to change a national agreement by the same national consensus if the political parties will abandon their narrow interest and commit themselves to the higher national interest.
Q: What are the main challenges that will face the coming transitional period?
A: Every transitional period have its own challenges and we in Sudan have become experts in transitional periods. The 1964 and 1985 transitional periods and now the present one and add to that the transitional period before independence in 1956.
The review of these experiences points to that the democratic transitional government each time when it comes to power is faced by an empty public treasury and collapsed state institutions. This is because dictatorships fall in all circumstances when their regimes became financially and politically bankrupt. This is a huge task that face every transitional period.
The second and very dangerous challenge that face any transitional period is that after the removal of the dictatorial regime people expectations are very high; better and cheap commodities, job opportunities, etc. When this is accompanied with the very high emotions that of the uprising results in besieging the transitional period with strikes and demands that in the end aborted the democratic process.
This was what happened in April, 1985, the transitional government was besieged by the trade unions demands which in the end lead companied with other factors to the 1989 military coup.
Now the situation is more dangerous because all the Sudanese are revolutionaries and in the arena and have very high aspirations for a better life, more stability and peace, etc. If we don’t utilize this high enthusiasm for positive actions in favor of the comprehensive development and induce them to abandon personal demands at this stage, then the transitional period will be surrounded by a deadly siege.
Q: There are indicators of regional and international interventions in Sudan internal affairs, is this positive or negative in your view?
A: All my life, I have been against any external interventions in the internal affairs of Sudan. And during the last Thirty years have been warning from foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Sudan. Since, Sudan Government asked the IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) to interfere in the South Sudan problem until the downfall of the regime in 6 April, 2019.
Foreign intervention comes when the internal situation is instable and when the government realizes that it is not in harmony with its society. So, it seeks foreign intervention from across the borders to strengthen its position.
When you start to relay in external forces look at the results. Just review the volume of the efforts exerted on the Darfur conflict which extended from Abuja, to Dohan and Addis Ababa. Then you can see that the Sudanese case have been in a world tour in the world capitals, the near and far.
Also, this have given legitimacy to foreign intercessions with our consent and it is normal that every country foreign policy serve its national interests. This was encouraged by the weakness of the Sudanese state.
So, if Sudan is able to strengthen its internal front and national unity then it will not permit any foreign power to interfere in its internal affairs. This need that we focus on internal reconciliation and peace and adapting a balanced foreign policy that serve first and last our national agenda.
source: sudan vision