Describing Sudan’s political transition as “undergoing its greatest crisis to date” in the wake of a coup d’état, the United Nations top official for that country today cautiously welcomed the recent power-sharing agreement jointly announced by the nation’s military leader and the reinstated Prime Minister.
“The agreement is far from perfect but can help to avoid further bloodshed and provide a step towards comprehensive dialogue and a return to constitutional order,” said Volker Perthes, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), referring to the 21 November political accord between Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
The Special Representative said the agreement was reached after weeks of domestic and international efforts to find a way out of the crisis but faces significant opposition from a large segment of Sudanese stakeholders, including civil society organizations and women’s groups. Many of them expressed their feelings that they were betrayed by the coup, rejecting any negotiations or partnership with the military.
Forthcoming decisions on Government formation, high-level appointments and the establishment of transitional institutions will test the will and ability of the stakeholders to seek a common way out of the crisis, he said, adding that unilateral decisions against the Constitutional Declaration in the aftermath of the coup must be reversed.
For the immediate term, all political detainees must be released, and arbitrary arrests must cease, he said, calling for the protection of the right to peaceful protest and assembly. Accountability for human rights violations perpetrated since 25 October will therefore be a critical indicator for progress.
Over the next few months, the restoration of political space can serve as the main indicator for a return to a democratic transition path, he said. Authorities will need to ensure a conducive atmosphere for credible elections and indicators include an independent electoral commission, an inclusive political parties’ law, the freedom of political parties and movements to freely organize, campaign, and enjoy access to the media, and the guarantee of human rights.
The United Nations in Sudan stands ready to support a credible and inclusive constitutional process and elections once a road map for these processes is agreed, he pledged, stressing that the Sudanese men and women’s unwavering commitment to realize civilian-led democratic governance cannot be overlooked.
In the ensuing discussion, Council members exchanged their views on the 21 November power-sharing agreement and the way forward. They also condemned the military coup of 25 October and expressed broad support for UNITAMS, which is mandated to assist Sudan’s political transition, peace processes and the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement among other objectives. Several members emphasized the need for timely investigations into the deaths of more than 40 protesters by security forces.
Mexico’s representative said the re-establishment of a transitional government should reflect the plurality of voices in Sudan, including women, and the partnership between the civilian and military arms must be considered a temporary source of stability until the peaceful transfer of power is ensured, as a result of democratic elections.
Ireland’s delegate said that the 21 November agreement does not reverse the steps taken since 25 October to dismantle the transitional framework and institutions. In the short term, the state of emergency must be lifted, and human rights should be protected. The Prime Minister should be allowed to freely exercise his powers. In the long term, she said, Sudan needs to see decisive security sector reform, a framework for effective transitional justice, and the holding of inclusive and democratic elections.
Tunisia’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Kenya, Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, welcomed the recent political agreement. Succeeding in the political transition and responding to the Sudanese peoples’ aspiration for democracy, freedom and justice remain the only viable way to preserve and consolidate the unity of the country.
Viet Nam’s delegate said partnerships remain key in promoting dialogue among Sudanese parties, highlighting the African Union’s initiative. Calling for greater efforts by Sudan and regional countries to foster friendly relations, he called for the lifting of current sanctions against Sudan.
China’s representative called for greater international support for Khartoum but cautioned against imposing a democratic path from outside, saying that such action is merely using democracy as a banner that deprives the country of true democracy.
Sudan’s representative reaffirmed that the crisis is mostly political, requiring wisdom and national ownership, as the two signatory partners have pledged to work towards democracy and prevent any relapse towards the unknown. He noted practical steps taken to implement the political agreement, including the release of detainees, and appointment of a chief justice and attorney general.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Estonia, Norway, India, Russian Federation, France and the United States.
The meeting began at 10:13 a.m. and ended at 11:48 a.m.