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Security forces quelled mutiny by former members and peace talks with rebel groups continued. Army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) 14 Jan put down mutiny by forces from former National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) dissatisfied with severance pay; NISS operations units disbanded in July 2019 when agency was reconfigured as General Intelligence Services (GIS). Mutineers opened fire, blocked roads in capital Khartoum and North Kordofan’s capital El-Obeid and briefly closed two oil fields in East Darfur; two people killed. RSF head Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” same day alleged former NISS head Salah Gosh helped instigate mutiny. Sovereign Council head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan next day announced replacement of GIS Director Abu Bakr Mustafa Damblab with army intelligence chief. After fighting erupted late Dec in West Darfur’s capital el-Geneina between Arab groups and Masalit tribe leaving over 60 dead, delegation including PM Hamdok and Hemedti 1 Jan went to city and urged tribal leaders to settle conflict. Peace talks between govt and rebel groups continued in South Sudanese capital Juba ahead of 14 Feb deadline to negotiate comprehensive deal. Abdelaziz al-Hilu, leader of rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) faction, 1 Jan extended ceasefire in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but govt continued to resist his wish that talks address question of state secularism. Malik Agar, leader of another SPLM-N faction, 17 Jan concluded talks with govt on political agenda; 24 Jan signed preliminary deal granting special status to South Kordofan and Blue Nile, paving way for militants to integrate into army. Rebel faction Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minnawi 24 Jan accused govt of backtracking on pledges, prompting govt and rebel coalition Sudanese Revolutionary Front to reaffirm commitment to peace process. Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan made progress in talks to resolve dispute over Ethiopia’s dam on Blue Nile, agreeing 31 Jan in Washington on various aspects and instructing technical and legal teams to prepare comprehensive agreement for signature by end Feb.
Transitional govt pursued efforts to hold former regime to account, pursue peace with rebel groups and normalise relations with U.S.. Court 14 Dec sentenced former President Bashir to two years in “social reform facility” for corruption. Sovereign Council 10 Dec ordered creation of committee to remove from power remnants of Bashir’s regime, fight corruption and recover embezzled money. Court 30 Dec sentenced 27 police and intelligence officers to death over killing of teacher in Feb. Third round of peace talks opened in South Sudanese capital Juba 10 Dec. Govt and rebel coalition Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) failed to reach deal by self-imposed deadline, but expressed confidence in process and agreed to extend talks by two months until 14 Feb. Govt and Darfuri SRF groups 18 Dec agreed to involve local stakeholders in “Darfur track”; 28 Dec agreed on roadmap to end Darfur conflict. Govt and representatives from central Sudan 28 Dec reached peace agreement. Rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu 26 Dec postponed resuming talks with govt by two weeks to consult with leadership and grassroots. Violence continued in peripheries. In Darfur, herders 10-11 Dec clashed with farmers in Dubo El Omda and Kabkabiya, 10 Dec reportedly killed one farmer and one soldier near Tawila. In Al Qadarif state near Ethiopian border, suspected Ethiopian gang 10 Dec killed civilian in Barka Nurein. During PM Hamdok’s visit to Washington early Dec, Sudan and U.S. agreed to appoint ambassadors for first time in 23 years. U.S. 20 Dec removed Sudan from religious freedom blacklist. “Friends of Sudan” nations, which met in Khartoum 11 Dec, made no financial commitments to support transition, but agreed to convene donor conference in April. Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt continued talks to resolve dispute over Ethiopia’s construction of dam on River Nile. Irrigation ministers held technical meetings in Cairo 2-3 Dec and Khartoum 21-22 Dec registering progress; FMs 9 Dec agreed to reconvene in Washington 13 Jan to review outcome of talks.
Authorities took steps to dismantle former regime. Authorities 20 Nov arrested and imprisoned Ali al-Haj, secretary general of Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP), after summoning him for questioning over former President Bashir’s 1989 coup. Govt 26 Nov approved draft law to dismantle former regime, including dissolving former ruling National Congress Party. Sovereign Council and Council of Ministers 28 Nov approved legal reforms to increase protection of civil liberties. Resumption of talks between govt and rebel groups postponed from 21 Nov to 10 Dec. Following PM Hamdok’s meetings with EU leaders in Brussels, EU announced it would provide €55mn for humanitarian relief. UN Security Council 14 Nov extended until 15 May 2020 mandate of UN Interim Security Force for Abyei, area disputed between Sudan and South Sudan. FMs from Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt in Washington 6 Nov agreed to hold four technical meetings, with World Bank and U.S. as observers, in bid to reach agreement by 15 Jan on filling and operation of Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on River Nile. Hamdok 25 Nov visited Eritrean capital Asmara to discuss violence in north east near border with Eritrea. Regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) selected Hamdok to hold position of chair for one year from Feb 2020, taking over from Ethiopia which held role since 2010.
Govt and armed opposition groups made some progress in peace talks, notably increasing humanitarian access in south, and agreed to reconvene late Nov. Tens of thousands demonstrated in capital Khartoum and other cities 21 Oct calling for dissolution of former ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and accountability for perpetrators of deadly 3 June attack on protesters; Hamdok same day appointed investigative committee. Govt and rebel groups opened peace talks in South Sudan’s capital Juba 14 Oct brokered by South Sudan’s President Kiir. Talks stumbled when rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu 16 Oct withdrew, accusing govt of violating ceasefire by bombing several areas in Khor Waral, South Kordofan state. Sovereign Council head General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan same day decreed nationwide ceasefire. SPLM-N rejoined talks 18 Oct and same day agreed with govt outline agenda. As part of confidence-building measures agreed in Sept, govt 18 Oct released 26 prisoners of war. Govt and rebel coalition 21 Oct agreed outline agenda for negotiations and agreed to allow humanitarians access to rebel-held areas. Parties 22 Oct agreed to resume talks in Juba 21 Nov. PM Hamdok early Oct called on UN to align withdrawal of UN-AU mission in Darfur (UNAMID) with peace talks citing Darfuri armed groups’ concerns that UNAMID’s withdrawal would leave civilians exposed to attack by militias; Hamdok 22 Oct requested UN extend UNAMID’s mandate by one year. Council of ministers 23 Oct granted World Food Programme access to hitherto off-limits areas of South Kordofan. Govt 10 Oct extended state of emergency by three months. Head of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” 28 Oct said some 10,000 RSF soldiers who took part in Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen had returned. UN Security Council 15 Oct extended mandate of UN peacekeeping mission in disputed Abyei region (UNISFA) on Sudan-South Sudan border until 15 Nov; 31 Oct renewed UNAMID’s mandate for one year. Sudan and South Sudan 22 Oct signed agreement demarcating shared border.
Security forces continued to repress protests, but stakeholders agreed on new cabinet and talks between govt and several armed opposition groups to begin mid-Oct present opportunity to advance peace in peripheries. PM Hamdok 6 Sept appointed cabinet of twenty ministers, including four women; appointment followed weeks of negotiations among civilian technocrats, military, opposition parties, protest leaders and civil society groups. Police 12 Sept used tear gas to disperse protesters outside presidential palace in Khartoum demanding prosecution of security forces responsible for deaths during past protests. PM Hamdok 22 Sept said govt would initiate independent investigation into deaths of pro-democracy protesters in June. In Nyala in South Darfur state, security forces 22 Sept fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse students protesting high prices and bread shortages. Next day demonstrations erupted in Khartoum protesting security forces’ violence in Nyala. In South Darfur state, unidentified militants 18-19 Sept attacked Gereida killing two civilians and one army officer, five assailants also killed. Following talks in South Sudan’s capital Juba brokered by its President Kiir, Sudan govt and Sudanese armed opposition groups 11 Sept signed roadmap for peace called “The Juba Declaration of Confidence Building Measures and the Preparation for Negotiation”; armed groups Sudanese Revolutionary Front and Sudan Liberation Forces Alliance signed document and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North faction led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu signed same text in separate document. Declaration says full negotiations will begin 14 Oct in Juba and sets 14 Dec as deadline for agreement. Armed opposition faction Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur refused to take part in talks. Hamdok and Kiir in Juba 12 Sept agreed to reopen access to several border areas in Sudan and South Sudan and reopen border crossings to improve bilateral trade and freedom of movement. Sovereign Council 26 Sept announced immediate closure of borders with Libya and Central African Republic citing undefined security and economic threats.
Ruling military council and opposition coalition signed landmark constitutional declaration to govern power structures for three-year transitional period until elections. Following 17 July political agreement, Transitional Military Council (TMC) and opposition coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) 4 Aug reached constitutional agreement and held formal signing ceremony 17 Aug, prompting thousands to celebrate in capital Khartoum. Agreement outlines military and civilians’ share of positions in sovereign council, which will oversee formation of council of ministers and legislative council; FFC to appoint 67% of legislative council, and all positions in council of ministers bar interior and defence ministers, to be appointed by TMC. Rebel alliance Sudan Revolutionary Front same day rejected constitutional declaration. FFC-nominated economist Abdalla Hamdok 21 Aug sworn in as PM of transitional govt, and TMC head General Abdel-Fattah Burhan as chairman of Sovereign Council. TMC 8 Aug annulled death sentence issued in 2014 against leader of rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North Malik Agar. During countrywide protests 1 Aug against alleged killing of protesters by paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in North Kordofan’s capital el-Obeid 29 July, unidentified armed actors killed at least four protesters in Omdurman near Khartoum. TMC 2 Aug said it had arrested seven RSF members for 29 July killings. Court 19 Aug opened corruption trial of ousted President Bashir, 31 Aug indicted him on corruption charges and for illegal possession of foreign funds, and denied request for bail. Hearing adjourned to 7 Sept. U.S. 7 Aug said it was not ready to remove Sudan from list of state sponsors of terrorism; 15 Aug imposed visa ban on former head of National Intelligence and Security Services Salah Gosh, barring him from entering U.S.. Intercommunal clashes in Port Sudan, capital of Red Sea state 21-26 Aug reportedly left 37 dead. Sovereign council 25 Aug dismissed provincial governor and head of security services, deployed troops and declared state of emergency in Port Sudan. Clashes between farmers and herders in North Darfur state left three civilians dead 11 Aug. Amid economic crisis, Sudan received financial and food aid from regional partners: notably, Saudi Arabia 30 July transferred $250mn as part of aid package announced in April.
Ruling military council and opposition coalition signed political agreement for three-year transitional period, but continued to negotiate over constitutional declaration that will govern power structures; military reportedly foiled coup attempt and mass protests continued. Transitional Military Council (TMC) and opposition coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) resumed talks mediated by African Union and Ethiopia 3-4 July. TMC 4 July released 235 members of rebel faction Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minnawi. TMC and FFC 5 July reached provisional agreement on transitional arrangements. U.S. Assistant Sec State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy 8 July tied lifting of Sudan’s “state sponsor of terror” designation to implementation of power-sharing agreement. Military officers 11 July allegedly attempted coup to block agreement; in response TMC arrested sixteen military personnel. TMC and FFC 17 July signed political agreement: joint military-civilian sovereign council to rule for 39 months until elections; eleven-member council to comprise five civilians from FFC, five TMC officers, and one consensually selected civilian. TMC to chair council for first 21 months, civilian for eighteen months. Agreement called for national investigation into 3 June attack on protesters. FFC 27 July rejected findings of TMC-appointed inquiry into 3 June attacks, which implicated eight RSF officers but exonerated TMC leadership. In Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, political opposition and rebel alliance Sudan Revolutionary Front 25 July agreed to set up FFC-led body to formulate common vision on constitutional declaration and to start talks on agreement between govt and rebel groups after transition to civilian rule. In South Sudan capital Juba 27 July TMC and FFC discussed implementation of political agreement with other Sudanese rebel groups, parties renewed ceasefire. Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) 29 July reportedly killed at least five protesters in North Kordofan’s capital el-Obeid, prompting nationwide protests. Tens of thousands demonstrated countrywide 11 July to commemorate those killed 3 June and thousands demonstrated in Khartoum 25 July to demand experts, not political parties, make up transitional govt.
Security forces escalated attacks on protesters in capital Khartoum and surrounding areas early June, reportedly killing over 120, and external efforts to mediate between military leadership and civilian opposition failed to revive talks. Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) 3 June stormed sit-in protest outside army HQ in Khartoum, reportedly killing some 120 protesters. In following days paramilitary forces continued to roam Khartoum and abuse civilians and RSF reportedly resumed attacks in Darfur in west. African Union 6 June suspended Sudan’s participation in its activities until transition to civilian-led authority. After initially denying responsibility, Transitional Military Council (TMC) 14 June admitted ordering dispersal of sit-in. TMC 4 June cancelled all agreements with opposition coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), said it would form interim govt and hold elections within nine months, and imposed internet blackout; FFC same day called for countrywide strike and civil disobedience until TMC stepped down. On strike’s first day 9 June, security forces fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse protesters in Khartoum and Omdurman, reportedly killing four. Tens of thousands demonstrated countrywide 30 June; seven protesters reportedly killed in clashes with security forces. Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed and AU launched parallel mediation initiatives. Abiy 7 June met TMC chair al-Burhan and opposition in Khartoum. TMC same day detained protest leader Mohamed Esmat, 10 June deported leader, deputy and spokesman of rebel group and FFC member Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) to South Sudan. TMC 22 June pledged to free all imprisoned fighters from Darfuri armed opposition and hold talks with rebels in Chadian capital N’Djamena. TMC 9 June said it was willing to restart talks and FFC 12 June agreed to resume negotiations and end civil disobedience. FFC 22 June agreed to Ethiopian proposal for joint interim authority, but TMC rejected it 24 June. Ethiopia and AU next day submitted new joint proposal, including civilian-majority governing council, and TMC agreed to resume talks.
Tensions rose as military council continued to resist opposition demands for civilian leadership and security forces reportedly attacked protesters, raising risk of more intense clashes in June. After talks between Transitional Military Council (TMC) and opposition coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) were suspended late April, security forces fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse protesters in Nyala, South Darfur 4 May. TMC 7 May said it wanted Sharia law to guide legislation during transition. FFC 12 May called for civilian-headed transitional structure and escalation of protests; protesters expanded checkpoints outside army HQ in capital Khartoum, site of sit-in protest. Armed actors wearing uniforms of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) 13 May opened fire on protesters in Khartoum, reportedly killing five; TMC and RSF denied responsibility. Talks resumed same day and by 15 May two sides agreed that transitional period before elections would last three years and agreed on duties of sovereign, executive and legislative councils, but failed to agree on composition and control of sovereign council. Security forces in RSF uniforms again shot at protesters 15 May; TMC head General Abdel-Fattah Burhan suspended talks until protesters removed barricades around sit-in. Talks resumed 19 May but made no breakthrough, and FFC called for two-day general strike. Thousands of public and private sector workers heeded call 28-29 May; in solidarity with protesters, workers at several key institutions including central bank, Port Sudan and oil ministry refused to work and flights out of Khartoum’s main airport were suspended 28 May. Tens of thousands protested in Khartoum 30 May and military called protesters’ sit-in a threat to stability. Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia continued to give TMC strong support: General Burhan visited Cairo 25 May and Abu Dhabi 26 May and his deputy General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, RSF head, met Saudi Crown Prince in Jeddah 24 May.