Without fixing the economy, citizens will remain disgruntled and vulnerable for any kind of manipulation including destabilizing the country further
By Swaib K Nsereko
Africa breathed a sigh of relief on July 17. Sudan's military rulers and leaders of a protest movement signed a power-sharing deal expected to potentially restore democracy in this key African nation.
When Sudan military leader General Abdalfatah al Burhan al-Rahman met with President Yoweri Museveni in the Ugandan eastern city of Mbale on July 5, the later encourage the Sudanese to agree, citing chronic civil strife as posing a serious danger to Africa. Speaking from a wealth of experience that was recognised by Gen Burhan, Museveni regretted that Uganda lost a lot of development time while engaging in disagreements.
Mediated by the African Union and Ethiopia the latest Sudanese agreement provides for a civilian-led government of technocrats and a sovereign council that will operate as a collective presidency, with five members each from the protest movement and the military. An 11th member will be a civilian selected jointly by the two sides. The council will be led by the military for the first 21 months and by a civilian representative for 18 months. The umbrella protest movement will nominate the Prime Minister who will name a cabinet of 20 ministers, excluding the Interior and Defence Ministers. Also in the agreement is the launching of an independent and transparent investigation of all violent incidents starting from April 11 when the military removed Al Bashir.
With this done, remaining as the country’s major challenge is the urgent need to overhaul the deeply crippled economy. Without fixing the economy, citizens will remain disgruntled and vulnerable for any kind of manipulation including destabilizing the country further.
But to overhaul the economy, Sudan will need a huge infusion of foreign funds. While a significant portion of this can come from mainly Gulf allies, Sudan needs to position itself and maximize benefits from the newly launched African Free Trade Area (AFTA).
The economic zone, planned to eliminate over 90% of intra-trade tariffs inside the continent is arguably the world’s biggest. Yet Sudan as the continent’s confluence country—representing Africa’s cultural diversity and linking it to the lucrative Middle East market, cannot afford to miss-out, but miss-out it will if its citizens choose instability.
In the interim period, the Sudanese military leadership is hailed for its commitment in repositioning and reclaiming the country’s historical influential role on the continent.
The writer is a PhD researcher at the University of Gezira, Sudan and Assistant lecturer, Islamic University in Uganda