Addis Ababa Declaration to Resolve the Sudanese Crisis: Issues, Positions, and Outcomes

The agreement signed on January 2, 2024, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, between the Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces ‘Taqaddum,’ led by former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, and the Rapid Support Forces led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has been a significant development. Named the ‘Addis Ababa Declaration to Resolve the Sudanese Crisis,’ it aimed to alleviate the intense stalemate leading to the war crisis in Sudan. However, it has sparked substantial indignation, especially in light of the escalating calls by the Sudanese popular resistance for the expansion of the Rapid Support Forces. The agreement’s attempt to confer local and international legitimacy on these forces seems to have reduced the chances of a successful breakthrough.

Addis Ababa Declaration: Issues and Remedies

The declaration’s preamble acknowledges the failure of previous attempts to reverse the course of the Sudanese revolution from December 2018 and the destructive impact of the war on April 15, 2023, on the Sudanese people. It emphasizes the importance of ending the war, addressing its effects, achieving peace, and returning to the path of democratic transition.

Key issues addressed in the agreement include stopping and ending the war, building sustainable peace, protecting civilians, facilitating humanitarian access to war-affected individuals, and commitments from both parties. The Rapid Support Forces have expressed readiness to cease hostilities immediately and unconditionally through direct negotiations with the armed forces. Meanwhile, the Taqaddum coalition, led by Abdullah Hamdok, is to work with the armed forces to adhere to similar procedures to reach a binding cessation of hostilities agreement with national, regional, and international monitoring on the ground. The agreement also calls for the release of 451 war prisoners and detainees by the Rapid Support through the International Committee of the Red Cross, opening safe corridors in areas under their control for humanitarian access, providing necessary guarantees for the operation of humanitarian organizations and protection of relief workers, and preparing for the return of those affected by the war to their homes in Khartoum, Darfur, Kordofan, and Al-Jazira. Security is to be provided through the deployment of police forces in urban areas and the operation of service and production facilities.

Additionally, the agreement commits the Rapid Support Forces to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry formed by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. This cooperation is intended to ensure fact disclosure, justice for victims, accountability for violators, and the formation of civil administrations with the consensus of the people from war-affected areas. These administrations are responsible for ensuring the normalization of life and providing basic civilian needs. The agreement also stipulates the formation of three committees, although it does not specify who will form them, their operational context, or who will finance and supervise them. These committees are:

  1. A committee for the protection of civilians that monitors the return of civilians to their homes and the operation of civilian service and production facilities. This committee also aims to mobilize resources to meet the humanitarian needs of civilians.
  2. A committee to monitor all violations across Sudan and identify those responsible to ensure accountability.
  3. A committee to uncover the facts about the instigators of the war.

Regarding issues of ending the war and establishing the Sudanese state, the agreement states that stopping and ending the war and building sustainable peace must be based on the unity of the Sudanese people and land, sovereignty over its territory and resources, and the recognition and respect for diversity and pluralism. Equal citizenship is the foundation of constitutional rights and duties, and governance in Sudan is to be federal, civil, and democratic. The people are to choose their government through free and fair elections under appropriate political, security, and constitutional conditions.

The agreement also focuses on the issue of military security, given its significant role in the outbreak of the current war. It calls for the implementation of comprehensive programs to rebuild and establish the security sector according to internationally agreed standards. These programs should begin by positively engaging with existing institutions, ultimately leading to a single professional and national army that represents all Sudanese according to the census standard. This army should be subject to civil authority and be aware of its duties and tasks as per the constitution. The aim is to end the phenomenon of multiple armies (armed forces, rapid support, armed movements, militias) outside the framework of a single national professional army. The agreement further emphasizes the dismantling of the June 30 regime (the regime of President Bassa al-Bashir) in both military and civilian state institutions, ensuring the entire security system (armed forces, rapid support, police, and intelligence apparatus) is removed from political and economic activities, and all factions pledge to support civil democratic transition processes.

In building the Sudanese state, the agreement calls for the reconstruction of civil state institutions in a manner that guarantees efficiency, professionalism, nationalism, and the fair distribution of opportunities among all Sudanese people based

on the population census criterion. The adoption of the principle of positive discrimination is also stipulated, alongside a state that is impartial and maintains equal distance from religions, identities, and cultures, recognizes diversity and pluralism, and fairly represents all its components. Political reform is emphasized as crucial for ensuring the democratization of all civil institutions, especially political ones, working towards the sustainability and stability of the democratic system, providing the necessary guarantees for the establishment of a government to complete transition tasks, constitutional and political foundation, administrative, financial, and economic reform, removal of the effects and rebuilding of what was destroyed by the war, launching a comprehensive transitional justice process that detects crimes, redresses victims, ensures reparations and accountability for violators to prevent impunity, and designing a campaign to combat hate speech and achieve national recovery.

Reactions to the Addis Ababa Declaration: Between Agreement and Disagreement

The first official reaction from the Sudanese government to the agreement came from Malik Agar, vice president of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, who described it as an ‘agreement between partners.’ He referred to the Taqaddum alliance as the known political incubator for rapid support, supporters of his rebellion, and stated, ‘I am not aware of a meeting between Taqaddum and the Sudanese government, and I do not know what Taqaddum is? Is it a political entity? I don’t know.’

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Transitional Sovereignty Council and commander of the army, rejected the agreement. He regretted that some politicians supported the commander of the Rapid Support ‘with cheers and applause’ while his forces were committing violence against their families, violating their honor, and looting their property. However, he expressed openness to dialogue with political forces, provided it occurs within Sudan.

The agreement has been increasingly criticized by many influential and active forces in the Sudanese context. Instead of being a constructive element in solving the Sudanese problem, it has become a catalyst for the already prevalent polarization in the Sudanese crisis, causing a disparity among political and civil circles between supporters, opponents, and skeptics regarding the agreement’s objectives.

Opponents of the agreement emerged immediately after its signing, viewing it as a political agreement that reinforces the RSF’s attempts to secure political backing for its survival in power. Criticism targeted the civilian forces for overlooking the grave violations committed by the RSF in all areas they reached. The agreement did not explicitly hold the RSF directly responsible for ethnic cleansing, widespread looting of banks and citizens’ property, incidents of rape, and the destruction of the infrastructure of the Sudanese state.

Supporters of the Agreement

Supporters of the agreement argue that it could be a comprehensive roadmap that addresses not only immediate humanitarian concerns, stops the war, and outlines principles for rebuilding the Sudanese state but also emphasizes accountability, justice, and active civilian participation.

In support of the agreement, some described it as a ‘bitter medicine,’ arguing that peace and agreement could not be sought without engaging with the RSF commander and extracting from him a firm commitment to stop military operations and end the ongoing violations.

Observers noted that one advantage of the agreement is its acknowledgment of responsibility for the thousands of deaths, victims of violations, and looting of property. The agreement stipulates that ‘every party that violated the law bears responsibility, and anyone who commits a crime is brought to trial.’

The Sudanese Revolutionary Front supported the agreement, welcoming it as an important step towards establishing peace in Sudan to end the suffering of the Sudanese people and stop the destruction and devastation that afflicted all aspects of life. They called on the leadership of the armed forces to respond to the call of Taqaddum to discuss, consult, and agree on issues leading to stopping the war, restoring normal life for citizens, and launching a political process leading to the production of a national renaissance project that contributes to building a modern state characterized by security and stability.

The Sudanese Communist Party, through its official spokesperson Fathi Fadl, welcomed the agreement in principle as an effort and attempt to stop the war. The party emphasizes its principled position on the issues of the masses, the right to life, and stopping a catastrophe that continues to claim the lives of citizens. It stresses the principle of non-impunity, recognizes the role of internal forces, especially the resistance committees, and advocates building a civil front from within while expressing distrust in foreign agreements. Fadl added, ‘Although we do not have information about the meeting and discussions between Taqaddum and the RSF, and the results it reached, the Communist Party generally welcomes any efforts in this area.’

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“The leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, Yasser Saeed Arman, a key figure in ‘Taqaddum,’ viewed the Addis Ababa meeting and its resulting announcement as the most comprehensive and broadest interaction yet between Sudanese political and civil forces and the Rapid Support Commander. He believes it marks the start of a decline in the rhetoric of division and the rise of political dialogue in the pursuit of peace and opposition to war. Arman emphasized the importance of including the forces of the civil revolution and its government, which has faced opposition. He urged the army commander, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to approach the dialogue in Djibouti with the Rapid Support Commander with clarity and determination, stressing that the armed forces, the country, and its people need dialogue now more than ever. According to Arman, this dialogue represents an opportunity to build a new nation and develop armed forces characterized by professionalism and political neutrality.

Critics, however, have voiced numerous concerns about the agreement. They argue that it fails to prioritize an unconditional ceasefire and end the war, does not specify means to halt hostilities, and employs euphemistic diplomatic language such as ‘cessation of hostilities’ that fails to resonate with those affected by the war. They also criticize the agreement for portraying ‘Taqaddum’ as representative of all civil forces in Sudan, which they claim is contrary to reality and reflects a desire for a political settlement favoring their interests. Additionally, critics point out that the agreement neglects the crucial issue of Rapid Support Forces vacating civilian homes and objects, instead legitimizing their presence in Sudan and seeking international recognition to reinstate their leader in the political arena, rather than as a war criminal.

The Popular Resistance Movement has rejected the Addis Ababa agreement, stating that it exposes a conspiracy against the nation and its resources. They have renewed their call for the Sudanese people to embrace armed popular resistance as the sole option until the country is liberated. The movement also called on the President of the Sovereign Council to use this as an opportunity to unite the populace around the armed forces and expedite comprehensive political reforms that are inclusive and obstruct those benefiting from political disruption.

The Sudanese Islamic Movement has criticized the agreement for not genuinely seeking peace or a solution to the national crisis, accusing it of furthering the country’s fragmentation and disconnect from its people. The movement supports armed resistance against what it describes as a ‘metastatic cancer’ perpetuated by the Rapid Support Commander.

Minni Arko Minawi, leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement and governor of the Darfur region, recently expressed his support for the army. He described the Addis Ababa meetings as unproductive, claiming that they were aimed at undermining his movement and pressuring him to align with certain groups.

Mubarak Erdol, a leader in the Forces of Freedom and Change-Democratic Bloc, views the agreement as a precursor to implementing a ‘Libyan model’ in Sudan. He argues that it provides political and potentially constitutional cover for the Rapid Support Forces, particularly through the formation of civil administrations as stipulated in the agreement. Erdol contends that the Rapid Support Forces’ past influence was insignificant until this agreement provided them with what they sought, complementing earlier statements about plans to convene a session of the Sovereign Council.

Wael Omar, leader of the Sudan Building Party, questions the ethical basis for dialogue and negotiation with the Rapid Support after their involvement in ethnic cleansing, displacement of millions, and extensive looting. He emphasizes his party’s support for the army’s efforts to counter rebellion, advocating for strengthening state institutions for reform rather than weakening or overthrowing them.

The Addis Ababa agreement raises several questions and concerns, such as the Sudanese government’s stance on the agreement’s implications, its potential as a step toward ending conflict and fostering democratic transition in Sudan, and the extent of Taqaddum’s alignment with specific regional and international interests. The agreement’s impact on IGAD and Jeddah negotiation efforts and whether it offers an alternative solution to the crisis are also under scrutiny.

The rapid pace of events in Sudan may hinder a meeting between the army and Rapid Support commanders. The Sudanese Foreign Ministry has stipulated that Rapid Support must first fulfill its commitments under the Jeddah Humanitarian Declaration, including vacating civilian homes and objects, before any meeting occurs. Sensitivities around the Djibouti meeting have increased, with the army institution believing that the Rapid Support Commander has strengthened civilian forces against it. This development, along with pressure from allies and rising popular resistance, could prevent a meeting between the two commanders.

Future scenarios in Sudan could unfold in several ways due to the ongoing controversy and differing perspectives on the Addis Ababa Agreement:

  1. The popular resistance could become a significant factor in the war, either weakening the Rapid Support Forces or leading to increased chaos and an escalation in the conflict, mirroring the Libyan scenario.
  2. Continued polarization and war with no immediate resolution in sight.
  3. The Addis Ababa agreement might gain more support, potentially laying the groundwork for ending the war and reintegrating the Rapid Support Forces into the political landscape.
  4. A breakthrough via international and regional mediation could lead to inclusive dialogue, consensus, and a transitional government focused on reconstruction and stability.

These scenarios reflect the complexity of the situation in Sudan and the myriad factors influencing its future direction.”

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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