On August 22, 2019, the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA) held a roundtable dialogue on “The Future of Sudan and its Relationships with Egypt” in light of the ongoing developments on the Sudanese political arena. A number of ECFA members who are interested in Sudanese affairs, as well as guest experts non-members of the Council, participated in the dialogue.
In his opening speech, the Council’s Chairman pointed out that the regime of the ousted Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir severely damaged relations between Khartoum and Cairo during the thirty-year period he ruled Sudan, left generations that hated the Egyptians, and portrayed Egypt as an occupier of the Halayeb and Shalatin Triangle, over which Sudan claimed its sovereignty. On the other hand, he referred to the constitutional declaration signed on August 17, 2019 in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, in presence of a number of representatives of African and Arab countries. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly represented Egypt at the signing ceremony. He also indicated that the members of the Sovereign Transitional Council delivered the constitutional oath on August 21, which was considered as an important and decisive step in the political life of Sudan, heralding a new chapter of history by which it turns a black page that lasted for about 30 years.
The symposium continued with an intervention by Ambassador Osama Shaltout – Assistant Foreign Minister for Sudan Affairs, during which he addressed the reasons behind the demonstrations and protests that led to the overthrow of Al-Bashir regime, the first and second declarations issued by the Transitional Military Council, and the new forces and currents in Sudan and those involved in the movement of freedom and change. The professional groupings … etc.
Ambassador Shaltout outlined Egypt’s stance regarding the new developments in Sudan, stressing Cairo’s keenness on Sudan’s stability and security. In this context, he referred to Egypt’s call, in its capacity as the then African Union Chair, to hold a consultative meeting on the situation in Sudan with the participation of the African Troika, neighboring countries and IGAD, in addition to Egypt’s proposal to extend the deadline for reaching an agreement between the Sudanese parties from 15 days to three months, which was reduced by the AU Peace and Security Council to only two months, before the military council’s dissolution and the sit-in by force on June 3, 2019, with the ensuing increased Western pressure that led to the of the Peace and Security Council to announce the suspension of Sudan’s African Union membership.
Assistant Foreign Minister for Sudan Affairs reviewed the position of the various regional and international parties regarding the new situation in Sudan and the challenges it faces during that stage and in the foreseeable future, especially the grinding economic crisis, the problem between the center and the suburbs, the challenge between the military establishment and shadow militias, as well as the challenge of the deep state and how to dismantle it, and the pattern of dealing with the forces inside Sudan, and many other challenges.
A discussion took place between the participants, namely, Ambassadors: Dr. Mounir Zahran, Abdel Raouf El-Reedy, Ezzat Saad, Dr. Salah Halima, and Professor Dr. Sayed Felfel – Member of Parliament, Professor Hani Raslan – Adviser to Al-Ahram Center for Studies, and Mr. Mahmoud Mourad – Journalist and Member of the Council. The participants agreed on the paramount importance of Sudan’s stability at that stage and recommended that Egypt should adopt a different position vis-à-vis Sudan than that which prevailed during the thirty years of Al-Bashir’s rule.
On his part, Ambassador Abdel Raouf El-Reedy suggested inviting the entire Egyptian society, including ECFA in particular, to form a working group for Sudan that would envision prospects for cooperation in the upcoming period. He added that it is important for the Council to adopt an initiative to form a delegation of civil society representatives to head to Sudan to communicate with events there at that crucial stage, and to affirm Egypt’s interest in the ongoing developments which herald the beginning of a juncture in the history of Sudan, which could also be a new and positive stage in the Egyptian/ Sudanese relations which suffered over the past three decades.
The dialogue concluded with a set of recommendations on ways and means to support and interact with the new Sudan at this critical stage.