Volker Perthes, the head of UNITAMS and a UN Special Representative, warned that unless a political solution is found to restore a credible, fully functional civilian-led government, the overall situation in Sudan “will continue to worsen” due to “continuing deterioration” on a socioeconomic level.
According to him, Sudan still lacks “a completely functional and legitimate government” due to last October’s military coup, which dissolved the power-sharing government between civilian leaders and army generals that had been established after the fall of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
An administration “that can re-establish the authority of the State across the country and create the conditions for a restart of international cooperation, including debt relief,” according to Mr Perthes, is what is desperately needed.
But even while there is still “a potential to strike a political deal that would usher in a new period of transition towards democratic rule,” that result was “by no means certain.”
An “opportunity window”
According to him, there is now a window of opportunity for both parties to “reach an agreement on the way forward” due to the military’s decision “to disengage from politics” and the recent initiatives by civilian forces.
However, time is of the essence since the longer political gridlock persists, the harder it will be to resume the “transition” that UNITAMS is supposed to support.
“I urge all parties to take advantage of the situation and agree on a solution that both men and women in Sudan respect.”
He stated that there had been repeated anti-coup demonstrations over the previous ten months, which resulted in 117 fatalities, “thousands” of injuries, and continued human rights violations.
However, he emphasised that there have been ongoing attempts by young people, women, trade unions, and professional groups to advance the cause of civilian governance and establish a new independent journalists’ syndicate to uphold their civil rights.
In addition, Mr Perthes noted that portions of the previous regime driven out by the revolution are “gradually returning to the political scene, to the administration, and the public arena.”
He also referred to other political “promising developments,” such as General Abdelfattah Burhan, President of the Sovereign Council, who announced his exit from politics on July 4.
“And while a sizable portion of the public questioned the sincerity of the military leadership’s statements, the declaration did spur momentum among civilian forces. As a result, four or five significant projects aiming at realising a shared “civilian” vision have developed.”
According to him, the Sudanese Bar Association had just on Saturday delivered the results of their work on a draught constitutional framework to the Trilateral Mechanism, which comprises the UN mission, the African Union, and regional development organisation, IGAD.
The parties behind two other significant efforts officially backed the proposal, so the Bar Association plan now unites a wide range of civilian groups behind a single goal.
He said that the Trilateral Mechanism has participated in every open initiative. We’ve helped women participate fundamentally, helped those who needed it with their constitutional questions, and now analysed the various political and constitutional perspectives that have been put forth.
“Almost all stakeholders, most notably the military, have emphasised that they want the Trilateral Mechanism to play a role,” he added. “This may be in bringing the various efforts together, coming up with bridging solutions, or ultimately mediating an agreement with the military.”
With a “wide-ranging consensus currently, among other things, on the need for a civilian head of state, an independent prime minister, and a cabinet of experts or technocrats, not party politicians,” the UNITAMS president said he was heartened by “the degree of commonality” over the political future. Additionally, there is agreement that transitional justice should be a top priority.
Therefore, military and civilian forces must seize this chance to end the crisis. Furthermore, the Trilateral Mechanism is prepared to unite the parties around a single text to resolve any outstanding issues, even though Sudan must own any political agreement.
The high degree of need
However, he claimed that due to political unrest, the economic crisis, rising intercommunal violence, bad harvests, and “now floods,” humanitarian needs were at record highs.
There are now more than 12 million people who are suffering from severe hunger. He informed ambassadors that the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is only financed at 32%, even though the UN and partner organisations have been able to assist 7.1 million people in need since January.
He said the UN has collaborated with allies to boost community resilience-building activities.
The mission continues to advise and train the Sudanese Police Forces in community policing, dealing with sexual and gender-based violence, and protecting civilians, said Mr Perthes. UNITAMS and the entire UN team on the ground also continue to offer support to national and state authorities in the implementation of the National Plan for the Protection of Civilians.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network