An inclusive political process, key to the transition in Sudan
The political transition in Sudan is progressing, although the formation of the legislative council and other important steps have not yet been taken, the head of the new UN mission in the country said on Tuesday in a virtual meeting. of the Security Council.
Volker Perthes delivered his first briefing to the ambassadors after five weeks as head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), whose mandate includes supporting progress towards democratic governance.
The ongoing transition to democracy began after months of street protests that led to the overthrow of longtime leader President Omar Al-Bashir in April 2019.
Last October, the Sudanese authorities and several armed groups in Darfur signed a historic peace accord to end decades of conflict. A new cabinet, announced in February, is based on a sharing of power between civilians, soldiers and armed movements.
New government in place
Mr Perthes said the new government had been able to agree on national priorities such as addressing socio-economic conditions, implementing the peace agreement and resuming negotiations with two non-signatories, and security sector reform.
However, the formation of the Transitional Legislative Council, where women must represent at least 40% of the 300 seats, remains pending.
“The rapid formation of an inclusive and representative Legislative Council is indeed essential to broaden support for the political transition. There are fears that the gains made for women’s rights in the constitutional document, such as the creation of a gender commission or the 40 percent, will not be realized, ”he said.
“And Sudanese youth have also expressed frustration at their lack of representation. I can only stress that an inclusive political process, including all segments of the diverse Sudanese society throughout the political transition, is essential for the success of this transition.
Civil society buy-in is critical
Kholood Khair, managing partner of a think tank in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, described considerations for the UN mission’s engagement with the authorities, wondering how UNITAMS will achieve consensus but also to manage “the very high expectations of the government and the public”.
She stressed the importance of civil society as a “key partner” in the transition process, as it has played a continuous role in the country since before the revolution that led to the overthrow of President Al-Bashir.
“I believe that in order to be effective and appropriately support the transition, and to have buy-in from civil society as a key partner in the transition, UNITAMS should consult regularly and meaningfully with different and diverse actors from all over the world. civil society, across the country in its planning and strategizing for its work during the transition, ”she said.
The withdrawal of UNAMID is on track
UNITAMS follows a joint UN-African Union operation in the country, which protected hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by heavy fighting in Darfur.
This mission, known as MINUAD, ended in December, and the complete withdrawal of all staff is on track to meet the June 30 deadline. A small team will remain in place for the liquidation, which is expected to take up to 12 to 18 months. A police guard unit will also remain, although Sudan has primary responsibility for protecting UN premises during this time.
Atul Khare, UN Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, said the already complex task of closing 15 bases and repatriating more than 7,000 peacekeepers and civilians has been made even more difficult as Sudanese authorities recently requested a postponement of the closure and transfer of two team sites this month.
“We intend to respond positively to the government’s request, especially to facilitate a smooth handover,” Khare said, adding: “Nonetheless, I remain concerned about the continued presence of uniformed personnel in these two. Site (s.