This week, General Burhan made important visits to the capitals of Kenya and Ethiopia, respectively. Both countries are significant players in the IGAD and the African Union. These visits followed an important conference in Saudi Arabia, which hosted the Jeddah peace process on Sudan – IGAD participated in the last round of talks.
The essential question here is: do General Burhan’s visits to Nairobi and Addis Ababa align with the old tactics of buying time and manoeuvring to prolong the war intending to win it? Or do they signify a strategic change of direction towards mobilising the region to stop and end the war?
Regardless of their underlying intentions, the visits took an opposite direction from Islamist tactics involving forum shopping. This shift is notable as Islamists play a pivotal role in shaping the policies of the Sudan armed forces. The Islamists have attempted, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to exploit regional contradictions and different interests to prolong the war in hopes of winning it.
Therefore, the visits should be welcomed by the civilian anti-war movement, as these visits can strategically serve to unify forums and different peace initiatives. Additionally, the visits will assist in creating a conducive environment between the IGAD countries and remove obstacles for the IGAD initiative, which the Islamists and the National Congress try to use to sabotage the IGAD initiative.
Moreover, these visits can be used as a fresh opportunity to strengthen the working environment between the Jeddah peace process, African Union, and IGAD. This momentum and environment should be taken advantage of immediately, as great opportunities to create a unified forum for the Sudan peace process, especially between the IGAD, AU, the US, and Saudi Arabia initiatives.
It is worth mentioning that the new environment provides a chance to develop a framework between the regional and international community, creating a partnership to achieve peace in Sudan. This should include the Gulf countries, Egypt, Chad, Eritrea, the UN, Europe, and TROIKA. We should use and maintain the current momentum as it might be a game-changer.
GENERAL BURHAN AND THE ARMY COMMAND:
General Burhan and the army command have executed the National Congress agenda in the 25th October coup and the 15th April war. Despite the horrific destruction, they have a chance to change liabilities into assets. Thus, General Burhan needs to consider his visits to Nairobi and Addis strategically to:
1. Strategically unify forums to serve Sudan’s interests, halting the war by establishing clear priorities to address humanitarian crises and severe human rights violations.
2. Re-establish the Sudanese state democratically, fostering citizenship without discrimination, while developing a non-politicized, professionally diverse armed forces that mirrors Sudan’s unity in diversity.
3. Fulfil the December revolution’s objective of establishing a transitional civilian government, empowering civilians and anti-war movements to play an effective role in the political process.
This will bridge the gap between the army command and the Sudanese people, the region, and the international community, creating a basis for resolving the conflict between warring parties. If General Burhan takes his successful visits to Nairobi and Addis tactically to buy time and continue the war, he would only add a new failure to his record of failures in the coup and war.
THE AFRICAN UNION AND THE NEED FOR A HIGH PANEL ON SUDAN:
Given the importance of the African Union to Sudan and the current international division, especially in the UN Security Council, it is paramount that the African Union takes the Sudan file seriously and institutionally. This should not be left to individuals, as it is high time for the African Union and the African Peace and Security Council to appoint a high panel for Sudan, consisting of statesmen and women representing different parts of Africa. This panel would aid in bridging the gap between different initiatives and devising a structured plan open to collaboration with regional and international stakeholders, working closely with the United Nations, particularly given the UN Secretary-General might choose an African statesman as an envoy for Sudan.
The African high panel would definitely enjoy the respect of the Sudanese, the region, and the international community.
15th Nov 2023.