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Sudan: power-sharing deal signed while Arab students face difficulties at universities

After months of protests sparked in January this year (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, January 2019) - which led to the overthrow of the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the transfer of power to a transitional military council - on 17 July 2019, military rulers and protesters signed a “historic” power-sharing deal. The so-called “political declaration” was agreed between the deputy chief of the ruling military council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, and protest leader, Ahmed al-Rabie, before African Union and Ethiopian mediators in Khartoum.  

A new transitional civilian-military ruling body will be established, and it will be composed of six civilians and five military representatives. According to the agreement, the ruling body will be chaired by a military general for the first 21 months and by a civilian for the remaining 18 months. A transitional civilian administration will be formed, and after 3 years, elections will be held. Civilians and university students in Khartoum celebrated the agreement, but observers say that the most difficult questions are yet to be settled. "As citizens we are satisfied with this agreement, but we also want to avenge the deaths of our martyrs," said one student. While another student declared: “We will not be silent until the government is fully civilian”.

In fact, university students in Sudan are not yet ready to celebrate. As a result of the protests, in February 2019 all Sudanese universities closed and stopped all their activities. Until now, there have been no signs of a possible reopening of universities and many foreign Arab students studying in Sudanese universities faced difficulties. According to unofficial statistics, those students come mainly from Somalia (7 000), Yemen (2 000), Egypt (1 200), Syria, Palestine and Jordan, over a total number of students in all universities estimated between 25 000 to 30 000 (as of 2016). The main problem is that the Ministries of Education in their counties of origin do not allow them to resume their studies in their home countries’ universities, due to differences in admission standards and educational systems, it is reported

The Guardian