Update on countries in political transition

Sudan

Date | 14 April 2022

Tomorrow (14 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1076th session to receive updates on political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan.

Following opening remarks by Willy Nyamitwe, Permanent Representative of Burundi to the AU and the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of April, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to deliver a statement. Other participants that will be delivering statements and presentations include: Professor Mohammed Al-Hacen Lebatt, Principal Strategic Adviser of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and AU Special Envoy to Sudan; Representative of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretariat; Representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chair of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS); Basile Ikouebe, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Office in Chad; Representative of the Republic of Ghana, Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); and Maman Sidikou, High Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Mission for the Sahel (MISAHEL).

This session is convened in line with the PSC’s request of the Commission for a regular update on Chad, Mali, Sudan, Guinea and Burkina Faso at its different sessions held to consider the situation in each of these countries after experiencing unconstitutional change of government (UCG). Previously, the Council has dedicated separate sessions to receive updates on the situations in each of the above countries, and this will be the first time that the Council will consider them in one session. Tomorrow’s session is an opportunity for the Council to take stock of latest developments around the transition towards the restoration of constitutional order in member States that have experienced UCG in 2021 and early 2022. It is worth recalling that the PSC has imposed sanctions against all of these countries with the exception of Chad.

It is the second time that the Council considers the situation in Burkina Faso after the 24 January 2022’s military coup against the democratically elected President Marc Roch Christian Kabore, the first meeting being held at its 1062nd session convened on 31 January. In that session, it is to be recalled that the Council suspended the country from all AU activities until the effective restoration of normal constitutional order. Council also endorsed the 28 January 2022 communique of the Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS, which among others requested the immediate restoration of constitutional order without specifying timeline. However, in the subsequent Summit held on 3 February, the regional bloc asked military authorities to ‘establish the Transition institutions, adopt a transition calendar and facilitate the return to constitutional order within the shortest time’.

Since its last session on 31 January, Burkina Faso adopted a Transition Charter on 1 March, setting a three-year transition period. The Charter was adopted after consultations between the military leaders, political parties, civil society groups, and other stakeholders. Among the provisions of the Charter is the one that bars the interim President and the coup leader Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba (he was sworn in as President on 2 March to lead the transition), as well as members of the transitional government from running for elections. A civilian Prime Minster and a cabinet consisting of 25 ministers were also appointed on 4 and 5 March. On 19 March, a transitional assembly was appointed as well, which will serve as the legislative body during the transition. The reported release of President Roch Kabore is another welcome development.

While all these developments are positive steps towards the restoration of a constitutional order, the 36 months duration of the transition period will remain issue of concern for the Council though it did not put any specific timeline for the transition at its previous session. On the part of ECOWAS, it has already expressed its concern over the duration of the transition at its most recent extraordinary summit convened on 25 March. The communique adopted at the Summit further demanded the ‘finalization of an acceptable transition timetable no later than 25th April 2022’, failure to which the regional bloc threatened to impose an immediate economic and financial sanctions. On the security front, terrorists have continued to stage their attacks which has exacerbated the humanitarian situation in the country.

The last time the Council considered the situation in Chad was in August 2021 during its 1016th session. Hence tomorrow’s meeting will be the first session of 2022 where the Council considers the developments in the country. It is to be recalled that following the military seizure after Idriss Deby’s death on 20 April 2021, the PSC decided not to suspend Chad contrary to AU norms. The event in Chad was not referred as a coup or unconstitutional change of government by the PSC. However, the Council urged the military to hand over political power to civilian authorities and authorised the urgent deployment of a fact-finding mission to Chad. Moreover, in its 996th session the Council requested, among others, the completion of the transition to democratic rule within 18 months, effective from 20 April 2021; guarantee that the Chair of Transitional Military Council (TMC) and its members do not run in the upcoming national elections; and the urgent revision of the Transition Charter. The Council also requested Chadian authorities to ‘urgently establish the National Transition Council’. During the 996th session the PSC also decided for the establishment of an AU-led Support Mechanism (AUSM) for Chad. The PSC, in its last session on Chad, at its 1016th session has urged for ‘dialogue between the Transition Government and all relevant Chadian stakeholders including opposition political parties and armed groups’.

Tomorrow’s session will be critical in assessing the level of implementation of the various requests made by the PSC and to examine the overall status of the transition process. The National Transition Council has been announced in September 2021 to serve as an interim parliament during the transition period. On the other hand, considerable delays have been witnessed around the national dialogue process. The TMC has declared amnesty for various rebel armed groups to facilitate their participation in the planned dialogue. However, there are still concerns around the inclusivity of the national dialogue, as key civilian groups are still missing and the focus has been more on the inclusion of politico-military groups. It would be also important for the PSC to underline the importance for respecting the 18-month transition period.

Council’s last deliberation on Guinea took place at its 1064th session convened on 10 February 2022. At that session, Council welcomed some of the key positive developments in Guinea’s political transition which include the establishment of a Transition Government with complete appointment of members of the National Transitional Council (NTC), the appointment of a civilian Prime Minister and the adoption of a Transition Charter. The release of former President Alpha Conde was also another positive development highlighted at the 1064th session – although Conde has returned to Conakry on 8 April, after which the transition government announced he shall remain in Guinea as long as his health allows.

Despite taking some positive steps, the transition authorities are also yet to meet the key requirements fundamental to ensuring the restoration of constitutional order. Notwithstanding the appointment of a civilian Prime Minister, key government positions continue to be held by military figures. The transition authorities were also unable to conduct national elections within the six months period stipulated by ECOWAS at its Extraordinary Summit of 16 September 2021 and endorsed by the PSC at its 1036th session of 5 October 2021. Not only have Guinean authorities failed to respect the stipulated timeline for the conduct of elections, they are also yet to announce a clear transition timetable. Having regard to the slow progress of restoring constitutional order and particularly in light of the missed deadline for the conduct of elections, ECOWAS, at its Extraordinary Summit of 25 March 2022, demanded the “finalisation of an acceptable transition timetable no later than 25 April 2022”. It further threatened the immediate imposition of economic and financial sanctions upon the expiry of this deadline without submission of the transition timetable.

In addition to following up on some of the key decisions of its previous session including its request for the AU Commission to ensure provision of technical support to Guinea, Council may urge Guinean authorities to finalise and submit a transition timetable which presents a reasonable and acceptable timeline for the conduct of elections and restoration of constitutional order.

At its last session dedicated to the situation in Mali – the 1057th session held on 14 January 2022 – the PSC endorsed the Communiqué of ECOWAS’s 4th Extraordinary Summit of 9 January 2022 which imposed economic and political sanctions against Mali, following the latter’s adoption of a transition calendar which delays the national elections until the end of December 2025. Council also strongly rejected the calendar submitted by Mali and referred to the timeline suggested as an “undue elongation of the transition process in Mali” as well as an “unconstitutional, impermissible, inappropriate and a grave obstruction to democratic processes”. Accordingly, it called on Malian authorities to ensure completion of the transition period within 16 months.

Despite the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS and PSC’s endorsement of the regional block’s decision as well as condemnations from the international community, the transition in Mali remains very slow. On 4 February 2022, the European Union (EU) adopted sanctions, including travel ban and asset freeze, against five members of Mali’s transitional Government, in support of ECOWAS’s decisions. In response, members of the transition authority organised a rally against EU’s sanctions. Recent developments including the request for Danish forces, deployed as part of the Takuba Task Force to leave the country on 24 January as well as France’s Ambassador to Mali to leave the country within 72 hours on 31 January demonstrate the deteriorating relationship of Mali’s transitional government with various partners. Moreover, on 11 April, the EU decided to halt its military trainings in Mali voicing concern over the interference and operation of Wagner Group.

On 21 February, Mali’s National Transition Council (NTC) unanimously adopted a draft law tabled by the Government for amending the 2020 Transition Charter. Among the contents of the revision is the modification of the transition timeline in line with recommendations of the national dialogue of December 2021. Key political oppositions, particularly the Cadre d’échange or “Exchange Framework” have completely rejected the revision of the Transition Charter. Meanwhile, efforts to resolve the impasse between Malian government and regional and international partners have continued. Particularly, ECOWAS’s Mediator for Mali has been actively engaging the transition government, although no agreement could be reached so far. At its recent Extraordinary Summit of 25 March 2022, ECOWAS showed flexibility and indicated possibility for gradual lifting of its sanctions on the condition that Malian authorities adhere to the timeline established by the joint technical team of ECOWAS, AU and UN, to extend the transition period for additional 12 to 16 months, effective from 15 March 2022. However, Mali’s interim President did not take part at the 15 March ECOWAS Summit, despite invitation extended by the regional body. On the other hand, upon ECOWAS’s communication of the proposed addition of 12 to 16 months to the transition period, Malian authorities engaged the ECOWAS mediator for Mali and successively proposed a period of 36, 29 and then 24 months. ECOWAS has however maintained the 12 to 16 months proposed by the joint technical team.

In light of this discourse, Council may urge Mali’s transition authorities to adhere to the new timeline agreed by ECOWAS, AU and UN and to work towards resolving the stalemates faced with regional and international stakeholders. It may also reiterate its previous calls for Malian transition authorities to commit to not participate in the elections at the end of the transition period.

The Council was last updated on the situation on Sudan during its 1060th session held on 25 January 2022. In this session, the Council is expected to hear about latest developments in the country and AU’s engagement to resolve the crisis following the 25 October 2021 coup. The anti-coup protests have continued and the absence of any political agreement that would break the dangerous political stalemate over the future of the transition. The military has continued its grip on power while regular protests against military rule have persisted in Khartoum and elsewhere, leaving at least 94 people reportedly dead and thousands injured.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts have intensified to help Sudanese parties find way out of the current crisis. The Chairperson of the Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, visited Sudan in February where he met Sudanese parties for consultation on the political situation in the country. Professor Mohammed Al-Hacen Lebatt, the AU Special Envoy, also visited Sudan on several occasions to ensure consultations are inclusive. A field mission was also scheduled to take place from 27 to 28 February, but this has been postponed pending the readiness of Sudan. The United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) also released its report on 28 February highlighting areas of convergence and divergence among stakeholders, which is an outcome of more than 110 consultations. The regional bloc, IGAD, also undertook a fact-finding mission to Sudan from 29 January to 1 February 2022. Though diplomatic efforts by UNITAMS, AU and IGAD were not coordinated initially, this has changed in recent weeks as they agreed to join efforts in supporting Sudan to resolve the crisis.

As noted by Volker Perthes, the Special Representative for Sudan and Head of UNITAMS, in his latest brief to the UN Security Council on 28 March, reaching an agreement on: interim constitutional arrangement, the criteria and mechanisms to appoint a Prime Minster and a cabinet, a roadmap for the transitional period, and the type and timing for the elections remain ‘urgent priorities’ to address the current impasse and put the political transition back on track.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communiqué. Having addressed the key issues specific to each of the countries on its agenda, Council may generally emphasise the importance of adhering to AU norms on democracy, good governance and constitutionalism in order to avert the occurrence of coups and the resulting disruption to constitutional order as well as peace and security. On Burkina Faso, Council may take note of the positive developments notably the adoption of the Transition Charter, establishment of transitional bodies and the release of President Roch Kabore. However, echoing the 25 March 2022 Communique of ECOWAS, it may express its concern over the duration of the transition period set for 36 months under the Transition Charter.

Similarly, Council may emphasise its concern over the slow progress in Guinea’s transitional process. Based on its previous practice, it is possible for Council to endorse ECOWAS’s decision with respect to Burkina Faso and Guinea adopted in the Communiqué of its Extraordinary Summit of 25 March 2022. It is however possible that some members of the Council may find the threatened imposition of immediate sanctions in ECOWAS’s Communiqué counterproductive to diplomatic efforts and engagements with the transitional authorities of each country, particularly having regard to the recent experience of Mali. With respect to the transition in Mali, Council may welcome and commend the engagements between Malian authorities and ECOWAS Mediator. It may also welcome the initiative of the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs to set up a Framework for dialogue at the political and technical level, which led to the formation of the joint technical team of ECOWAS, AU and UN that proposed an electoral timetable of 12 to 16 months.

On Chad, the PSC may urge the military council to honor its pledges to limit the transition to eighteen months and exclude its own members from running in the planned election. The PSC may further underline the importance of holding an inclusive and genuine national dialogue.

Regarding Sudan, the PSC may express its concern over the lack of political agreement on the future of the transition and its impact on the economic and security conditions of the country. Council may welcome the joint efforts of AU, UNITAMS and IGAD to facilitate consultations among Sudanese stakeholders. It may also urge both the military and the civilian political forces to reach a deal on a transitional arrangement that would steer the country to the election. The PSC may reiterate its call upon the Sudanese authorities to refrain from using excessive force against protesters and hold perpetrators to account.


Briefing on the Situation in Sudan

Sudan

Date | 25 January, 2022

Tomorrow (25 January), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1059th session to receive a briefing on the situation in Sudan.

Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Amma Adomaa Twum-Amoah, is expected to make opening remarks. AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, may brief the Council, including in light of his recent visit to Sudan. The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission to the Sudan, Mohamed Belaiche, may also brief the Council. As per usual practice, the representatives of Sudan and Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are expected to deliver statements in their capacity as the concerned state and relevant regional bloc. The Special Representative of the Secretary General Hanna Tetteh may also make a statement.

Tomorrow’s session will be the third time the PSC convenes to discuss the situation in Sudan after the 25 October 2021 military seizure of power that plunged the country into a political crisis. In its first session (1041st), where the PSC decided to suspended Sudan from all AU activities ‘until the effective restoration of the Civilian-led Transitional Authority’, it also requested the Chairperson of the Commission to ‘immediately dispatch to Sudan his emissary to engage with Sudanese stakeholders on necessary steps needed to expedite the restoration of constitutional order in Sudan’. The Council further requested the Chairperson of the Commission to provide monthly updates on the situation in Sudan.

Tomorrow’s session is convened as a follow to this request and at the backdrop of PAPS Commissioner Adeoye’s recent visit to Sudan. While the dispatching of the AUC Chairperson’s emissary has not been followed up as envisaged in the PSC decision, on 18 January, Adeoye was visiting Khartoum during which he delivered ‘a special message’ from the AU Commission Chairperson to General Abdeltatah Al Burhan.

One of the major developments since the 21 November political agreement between Prime Minister Abdala Hamdok and Al Burhan that reinstated Hamdok was the latter’s resignation on 2 January 2022, and further deepening the crisis in Sudan’s transition that has been stumbling since the 25 October coup. The resignation came amid unrelenting deadly protests and failure of the military not to interfere in cabinet appointments. It is worth recalling that despite the 21 November agreement that reinstalled Hamdok to his position as Prime Minister, the mobilization of opposition against the military and the staging of protests continue unabated.

Hamdok’s resignation raised international concerns about the worsening of the political crisis in Sudan’s transition. For instance, the Chairperson of the Commission, Moussa Faki, issued a statement on 3 January expressing his concern over the resignation and the continued protests and violence in the country. In his statement, the Chairperson urged ‘all national civilian and military actors to intensify their efforts to find a path towards consensual approaches and a peaceful resolution to the crisis, in conformity with the transitional political agreements’, and expressed AU’s readiness to accompany Sudan in its quest for peace. Similarly, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, after expressing his regrets over the lack of political understanding, encouraged ‘all stakeholders to continue engaging in meaningful dialogue in order to reach an inclusive, peaceful and lasting solution’. The European Union (EU) and the Troika on Sudan (Norway, the UK and the US), in a 4 January statement, also ‘strongly urged’ stakeholders to ‘commit to an immediate, Sudanese-led and internationally facilitated dialogue’ to address the current political crisis.

Against the background of growing calls for dialogue and in the context of lack of progress towards breaking the political stalemate internally, on 8 January, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) formally launched a ‘UN facilitated intra-Sudanese political process’ on the way forward for democracy and peace under its good offices mandate. The success of this effort however rests heavily on the backing it has from both internal and external actors. Thus far, two of the three major pro-democracy groups, the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Resistance Committee, have rejected the initiative while the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) expressed willingness to participate in the consultation on condition that the purpose is to ‘resume the democratic transition’. The military reportedly welcomed the initiative. International partners such as the Sudan Quad (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, UK, and US) and Friends of Sudan (core members of the Friends of Sudan group include France, Germany, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Norway, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, UK, US and the EU) also expressed their strong support to the initiative of UNITAMS.

The political process that UNITAMS initiated is sure to benefit from active role of regional actors such AU and IGAD. A statement issued by the ‘Friends of Sudan’ on 18 January 2022 recognized the ‘important and necessary engagement of regional bodies’ in advancing Sudan’s democratic transition and the role they can play in ‘supporting’ UNITAMS ongoing effort. It is worth noting that Mohamed Hamdan Degalo (Hemeti), Al Burhan’s deputy arrived in Addis on 20 January on a two-day official visit. AU Commission Chairperson met with Hemeti to discuss, according to the Chairperson, ‘the worrying situation in Sudan’. In his communication via twitter after meeting Al Burhan, Adeoye noted the reaffirmation by Sudanese actors of ‘the imperative for a constructive and active role for the AU in Sudan’. In tomorrow’s session, members of the Council may seek clarification from Adeoye on plans for AU’s engagement to push for restoration of constitutional order and the available entry points in this regard.

Given the persistent protests and the security response that has increasingly claiming the lives of unarmed protesting civilians, the most immediate issue of concern for the PSC is how to calm down the increasingly violent confrontation between protesters and the military. In terms of the political process to achieving consensus on the transition, there are several contentious issues among Sudanese stakeholders. For instance, whether the August 2019 Constitutional Declaration remain a relevant framework to guide the transition seems contested. The manner and basis for the selection of a new civilian leadership, the place of the military in the transition, and the timeframe for the election remain highly divisive among political forces. Protesters and opposition political parties rejected any power-sharing with the military while the latter’s commitment to transfer power to a civilian component as envisaged under the Constitutional Declaration remains doubtful. Furthermore, some of the transitional tasks stipulated in the political agreements including the formation of the Transitional Legislative Council and other oversight mechanisms remain unimplemented nearly a year and half after 2019 Constitutional Declarations.

Apart from the political developments, the Council may assess the security and socio-economic as well as human right conditions of Sudan that have seen deterioration since the military coup. In his 10 December 2021 UN Security Council briefing, Volker Perthes, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan and Head of UNITAMS, noted a ‘resurgence of intercommunal conflicts and armed banditry in Darfur, Blue Nile and the Kordofans’. The coup also put a break on the flow of international financial assistance, thereby disrupting the process of economic recovery. The human right situation has also worsened as security forces increased the use of force in their attempt to contain the largely peaceful protesters. More than 71 protesters have been reported killed since the 25 October coup. There are also allegations of rape and sexual violence against protesters at the hands of security forces, as well as reported attacks on medical facilities.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Among others, the PSC may express its concern over the worsening of the political crisis and the attendant resignation of Prime Minister Hamdok. The Council may emphasize the need to take concrete measures for deescalating the worsening tension and accompanying instability. The PSC may welcome the political process that UNITAMS initiated and underscore the imperative of ensuring that any effort to resolve the ongoing political crisis is inclusive and representative of all sections of society including the youth and women and garners the support of all political and social forces. The PSC may also encourage the AU Commission to enhance its engagement to accompany Sudan on its transition to democratic and civilian rule. The Council may call on all the Sudanese actors to use the August 2019 Constitutional Declaration as a basis of the dialogue towards achieving consensus on the transitional political arrangements while upholding the Juba Peace Agreement. Regarding the violence against protesters, the Council may urge the Sudanese authorities not to use of excessive and lethal force against protesters and reiterate its 1050th session in urging the Sudanese to undertake a ‘prompt, independent, transparent and effective investigation into alleged violations and abuses perpetrated since 24 October 2021’. The PSC may reiterate its decision ‘to dispatch a mission to Sudan to engage with the authorities and other relevant stakeholders with a view to facilitating and supporting the ongoing transition process, and to report thereon.’


Emergency Session on the Situation in Sudan

Sudan

Date | 26 October, 2021

Tomorrow (26 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene an emergency session on the situation in Sudan.

Following the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Mozambique to the AU, Alfredo Nuvunga, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement. Sudan as the country concerned may also make a statement. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as the relevant regional organization may also deliver statement.

On 25 October 2021, Sudan’s military successfully staged a coup by arresting Prime Minister Hamdok and other civilian officials. A few hours later, head of the Sovereign Council and army chief, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announced the dissolution of the transitional government, declared state of emergency and announced that the military will oversee Sudan’s transition until the conduct of elections and formation of a democratically elected government.

This is a very troubling development that not only violates the AU norm banning unconstitutional change of government, involving the dissolution of government by the military but also the AU facilitated constitutional declaration of August 2019 that established the transitional power-sharing government with civilian and military components. If the transitional process is not brought back on track with full respect of the Constitutional Declaration through restoration of the transitional government with its civilian leadership under Prime Minister Abdela Hamdok, this coup and the decision by the military to be in charge of the transition will completely reverse the gains achieved thus far and jeopardize the hope for a successful democratic transition in Sudan.

There have been warning signs that this military coup has been in the making. The relationship between the civilian leadership and the military has from the very beginning been fragile, although this does not make today’s events inevitable. Disagreement and tension have been expanding for more than a year. The two sides disagreed over foreign policy, the issue cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) relating to the prosecution of alleged crimes perpetrated in Darfur, including the handing over of former president Omar Al Bashir to ICC, and importantly the reform of the security sector in Sudan.

Despite the efforts of the transitional government to secure debt relief and obtain foreign investment to revive it, Sudan’s economy has been on a downward spiral since 2019, with recent inflation rates reaching a shocking level of 400% per year. This has added to the complexity of the situation creating citizen discontent and complaint over the rising cost of living. During the previous months, Sudan experienced a crisis involving the blocking in Eastern Sudan of the path to port Sudan, causing serious shortage of supplies in the country and thereby endangering processes for easing the dire economic situation in the country. While the public protests spurred by the economic difficulty have undermined the transitional civilian authorities, the public has also remained opposed to the military, expressing their unwillingness to have a military rule in the country and endangering the gains made towards establishing a civilian government.

In September, there was an announcement of the foiling of an attempted coup by some security personnel associated with the previous administration of Bashir. This brought the growing tension between the civilian leadership and the military to a low point with the two sides trading accusations. While the military accused the civilians of alienating the military and failing to effectively govern the country, the civilians accused the military of trying to create conditions for countering the revolution and grabbing power by force.

Though the ‘remnants of al-Bashir’s regime’ were scapegoated for the aborted coup, it clearly signalled not only the rocky transition towards a democratic rule but also revealed the deep divides and the simmering tension within civil-military coalition. Immediately after the attempted coup, it was reported that military component of the Sovereign Council suspended all meetings with its civilian counterpart while removing the security details of the Committee for Dismantling the June 30 1989 Regime, Removal of Empowerment and Corruption, and Recovering Public Funds—a committee established by the interim transitional government with the aim to claw back assets from the ousted government of al-Bashir.

As reflected in the Constitutional Declaration, the power-sharing arrangement between the two was for military to chair the Sovereignty Council for 21 months before a civilian takes over for the remaining 18 months of the transitional period leading to elections. Many have been casting their doubt on whether the military will honour the terms of the power-share deal given its history and reluctance for accommodating reform that limits its role in the politics of the country. Indeed, the coup happened only weeks away from the time for transferring the leadership of the Sovereign Council to the civilian leadership.

The absence of a mechanism for resolving disputes between the military and the civilian leadership in a context of mutual distrust and with the slow pace of the establishment of the transitional assembly, there has been increasing tendency for mobilizing rival public protests. Against the background of the deteriorating relationship since the attempted coup in September and in the context of the deterioration of the relationship between the civilian leadership and the military and in the face of the impending handover of the leadership of the Sovereign Council by the military to the civilian leadership headed by Prime Minister Hamdok, a pro-military sit-in was staged in front of the presidential palace. This pro-military protest not only put the blame on the civilian leadership for the contestations and ‘ineffective governance’ of the country but also called for, among others, the overthrow of the civilian leaders. It was reported that Sudanese and observers of Sudan feared that this was the pretext for a hostile takeover of power.

In a show of public support for the civilian leadership and their rejection of the military’s manoeuvre to frustrate the reform process, protests countering the pro-military demonstration took place not only in Khartoum but also other parts of the country. This mobilized various sectors of society from different walks of life.

International organizations and states responded to the situation unfolding in Sudan. The Chairperson of AU Commission, for instance, issued statement calling for the ‘immediate resumption of consultations between civilians and military within the framework of the Political Declaration and the Constitutional Decree’, in addition to urging authorities for the release of political leaders. The Executive Secretary of IGAD ‘strongly’ condemned ‘any attempt to undermine the transitional government’ while urging all parties to ‘exercise utmost restraint’. The Secretary-General of the Arab League issued statement as well expressing concerns over the military take-over and called for all parties to ‘full abide’ by the constitutional declaration signed in August 2019. The UN Secretary-General also called for the immediate release of Prime Minister Hamdok and other officials. Governments like the US and France also condemned the act.

Most significant is the mobilization of civilian protesters in Sudan. Unsurprisingly, protestors took over Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman in apparent opposition to the military coup. This has made it clear that there is widespread opposition against military rule. It also signifies that many civilians are determined to put their lives on the line for reversing the military takeover of power. In this context, there is heightened risk for confrontation by the military that will put the lives, safety and bodily security of civilians in grave peril. It is to be recalled that the PSC sanctioned Sudan on 5 June 2019 following the 3 June violent crackdown by the military against civilians that claimed the lives of many civilians and on account of lack of progress towards the establishment of a civilian-led Transitional Authority as prescribed by the Council in its previous sessions.

From a security perspective, the military coup not only brings the military on a deadly collusion course against the civilians who have been mobilized for defending the revolution throwing the country into deep instability but also threatens the Juba sponsored peace process that led to the integration of various armed groups from Darfur and the two areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile into the transitional process. All indications are that unless the situation is reversed and the transitional process is put back on track, fragile security conditions in Darfur and other parts of Sudan may deteriorate further.

Tomorrow’s session will be followed very closely not only by the wider African public and the international community but also by Sudanese themselves, including the civilian leaders of the transition. Members of the PSC may consider recent experiences involving military seizure of power. These have been witnessed among others in Chad, Mali and Guinea. Considering the gravity of the situation in Sudan including its adverse impact not only on the transitional process but also on the stability and peace and security of the country and the region, there seems to be very little legally viable and politically legitimate option other than following the approach taken to the military seizure of power in Guinea. Nigeria’s Foreign Ministry made this clear in a statement that expressed strong condemnation of today’s military coup d’état in Sudan and called for immediate restoration of the transitional government.

The expected outcome is a communique. The PSC may express grave concern about the military takeover of power in Sudan and its very adverse implications for the transitional process and the peace and security of Sudan and the region. It may condemn the dissolution of the government and the arrest of the civilian leadership of the transitional government contrary to the Constitutional Declaration of August 2019. The PSC may also welcome the statement of the AU Commission Chairperson and the call of others including IGAD rejecting the attempt to derail the transitional process. It may also reiterate its zero tolerance for military coup and its rejection of the announcement by the military to be in charge of the transitional process contrary to applicable AU norms on democracy and constitutional rule. It may in this context consider the situation in Sudan as unconstitutional change of government in line with Lomé Declaration of 2000 and the African Charter on Elections, Democracy and Governance. In line with its established practice and invoking Article 7(1) (g) of the PSC Protocol, the Council may suspend Sudan from all AU activities until restoration of the transitional process involving the civilian leadership. The Council may further demand the immediate and unconditional release of Prime Minister Hamdok and other civilian leaders and their return to their positions. Following its best practice and to facilitate implementation of these decisions and restore stability in Sudan, the PSC may request the Chairperson of the Commission to send a special envoy who helps the parties in the process of restoring the transitional process on the basis of the Constitutional Declaration and facilitate agreement between the civilian leadership under Prime Minister Hamdok and the military on ways of implementing the transition process within the framework of the Constitutional Declaration and on the basis of mutual respect and establishment of an agreed upon dispute resolution mechanism.


Briefing on the situation in the Sudan

Sudan

Date | 16 March, 2021

Tomorrow (16 March) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 985th session on the transitional situation in Sudan. The session is also expected to serve as a preparation for Council’s upcoming field visit to Sudan scheduled to take place from 30 March to 1 April. Apart from the opening statement of the Chairperson of the PSC, Bankole Adeoye, the new Commissioner for Political Affairs and Peace and Security will deliver his maiden remarks. It is also expected that the Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson and Head of the AU Liaison Office in Sudan, Mohamed Belaichi will give a briefing to the PSC. The representative of Sudan is also expected to make statements both as representative of Sudan and as Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The new Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Volker Perthes, is also scheduled to make statement.

It is to be recalled that the PSC requested the Chairperson of the AU Commission to regularly brief the Council on the situation in the Sudan, in particular, on the implementation of the Political Agreement and the Constitutional Document. Tomorrow’s briefing is expected to provide an update on the overall political situation, the evolution of the transition including the implementation of the Juba peace agreement since PSC’s last session on Sudan held during its 952nd meeting.

The country marked the second anniversary of the revolution in December 2020. Since the PSC’s last session, significant progress has been observed, although the transition continues to face serious challenges, thus remaining fragile. On 14 December 2020, Sudan has been removed from the US List of State Sponsors of Terrorism. This has paved the way for the transitional government to receive much- needed financial and economic assistance to revive the country’s ailing economy and for the country to engage in negotiations to secure debt relief. It also boosts the position of the civilian component of the transitional government.

An important milestone has also been achieved in the implementation of the Juba peace agreement. The Announcement on 8 February by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok of the formation of the expanded new Cabinet resulted in the inclusion in the transitional government of the representatives of the various opposition group formations in the structures of the transitional government. The new cabinet includes, among others, the Darfuri rebel leader Gibril Ibrahim as Finance Minister and, Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi, a leader of the Umma Party, as Foreign Minister. Some are also represented in the Sovereign Council, the other major component of the transitional government.

Following these changes in the composition of the transitional government, the expanded transitional government adopted a new political agenda committing to addressing the serious economic challenges affecting the public, security sector reform, transitional justice, gender and youth empowerment.

Despite such progress, the transitional process continues to face major challenges. In terms of the implementation of the transitional timelines including in the Constitutional Document, the call of the PSC for the establishment of the transitional legislative council, an important milestone envisaged in the Constitutional Document and the Juba Peace Agreement, remains unmet as various deadlines, including that of 25 February have been missed. The delay is said to be because of ongoing consultations on the distribution of seats among Sudanese political forces, including the signatories of the Agreement. The appointment of substantive state governments expected to take place on 15 February was not met. Despite the provision in the transitional agreement for the Military to handover the chairship of the Sovereign Council, there remain uncertainties.

In the political front, one of the major priorities for the transitional government is to advance the peace process by bringing on board non-signatory armed opposition movements, including the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North-Abdel Aziz al-Hilu faction and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdul Wahid al-Nur faction. The recent meeting between the Sovereign Council Chairman, Lieutenant General Abdelfattah Burhan, with Mr. Al-Hilu, and the latter’s declaration to unilaterally extend the cessation of hostilities for five months is encouraging in this regard. There is also the issue of addressing challenges affecting the relationship of the civilian and military arms of the transitional government.

The dire economic challenges facing the country is another major area of concern for the transitional process. the Transitional Government of Sudan rolled out its economic recovery plan, ‘Sudan Economic Revival Plan 2019-2030’ to address the economic challenges facing the country. With the withdrawal of subsidies leading to spike in cost of living, thousands of Sudanese took to the streets to protest in Khartoum and other major cities to express their frustration over the deteriorating socioeconomic condition and criticized the performance of the transitional Government. Following the formation of the new cabinet, the transitional government took the most difficult decision to float the currency exchange rate in line with a reform programme agreed last year with the International Monetary Fund. Despite the adoption of mitigating economic measures including safety net programs, the economic situation remains an area that requires major effort, including via international support.

In terms of the security situation, intercommunal violence in Darfur continues to threaten the lives of civilians, while UNAMID continues its drawdown and exit. Recent incidents resulted in the death, injury, and displacement of civilians. These incidents have raised questions over the withdrawal of UNAMID. Displaced people who protested against these incidents have in fact called for the mission to stay. UNAMID is expected to complete its withdrawal by the end of June this year and UNITAMS that took over from UNAMID with a mandate to assist Sudan in its transition and peacebuilding process is already operational. Highlighting the precarious security situation and fragility of the transitional process, on 9 March Prime Minister Hamdok survived an assassination attempt, second time in a year.

The other major challenge with not-insignificant implications for the transitional process is the broader regional geo-political dynamics. Tensions between the Sudan and Ethiopia along their common border has been a matter of serious concern. There has been calls for the two countries to ensure a peaceful resolution of their differences regarding the demarcation of their common border. Countries in the neighborhood and beyond have also offered to mediate. On his part, Chairperson Moussa Faki had sent his Principal Advisor Professor Mohamed el Hacen Ould Lebatt to Khartoum to undertake consultation with the transition authorities. But there has been calls for the AU to be engaged in assisting Ethiopia and Sudan, including through its border programme. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his recent report to the UNSC on the Sudan, also urged the leaders of Ethiopia and the Sudan to de- escalate the situation, ensure the safety of those living in the area and work towards a common solution. Other regional dynamics include the negotiations over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The expected outcome of the meeting is a communique. The PSC is expected to welcome the progress made in the implementation of the transitional process including, the formation of the new transitional cabinet and the expanded Sovereign Council in implementing the Juba agreement. It would also welcome the removal of Sudan from the US List of State Sponsors of Terrorism and call on the international community to extend the much needed financial and economic support to Sudan to ensure the success of the transition. The PSC may also urge the various components of the transitional government to overcome their differences and enhance working together in the implementation of the transitional process. It may also reiterate its earlier call for the formation of the Transitional Legislative Council in line with the Constitutional Document.

In terms of the peace process, the PSC is expected to urge those armed movements that remain outside the peace process to commit to negotiations that will lead to a fully inclusive and sustainable peace in the Sudan. The PSC may express concern over spike in violence in Drafur with dire consequences to civilians. The PSC may also urge express concern about the escalation in border tensions between the Sudan and Ethiopia and call on the leaders of Ethiopia and the Sudan to de-escalate the situation and work towards finding an amicable solution to the border issue through dialogue and negotiation. In order to enhance AU’s support for the transitional process, the PSC may call on the deployment of needs assessment process for identifying areas of post-conflict reconstruction and development support by the AU and the need for close working arrangement between the AU and UNITAMS.


Consideration of the Special Report of the AUC Chairperson and the UN Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and a follow-on presence

Sudan

Date | 30 November, 2020

Tomorrow (30 November) the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) is scheduled to consider the Special Report of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) on the African Union United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and a follow-on presence. The session is expected to take place through VTC.

Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, is expected to deliver a statement. The Joint Special Representative and Head of UNAMID, Kingsley Mamabolo, is also scheduled to make a presentation. Representative of Sudan as the Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and country concerned, IGAD secretariat, UN Office to the AU (UNOAU) are also expected to make statements.

In the last session on UNAMID held in May 2020, the PSC in its 927th communiqué reiterated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s request to the UNSC in deploying a mission with a Chapter VI of the UN Charter mandate. It further underlined the importance of respecting national ownership of the transition process and need for continued coordination and complementarity between the AU and UN in peacebuilding activities. Moreover, the PSC further stated that UNAMID’s mandate should be extended up to 31 December 2020 in line with its protection mandate and implementation of the exit strategy.

On 3 June 2020, the UNSC has adopted two resolutions: 2525 (2020) and 2524 (2020). Resolution 2524 (2020) established the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) for an initial period of 12 months. The UNSC requested the Secretary General to rapidly appoint a Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Sudan and Head of Mission of UNITAMS and ‘ to swiftly initiate the planning for and establishment of UNITAMS, with a view to reaching full operational capacity as soon as possible and in order to ensure the mission is able to start delivering against all its strategic objectives no later than 1 January 2021.’

Pending the establishment of UNITAMS, resolution 2025 (2020) extended the mandate of UNAMID until 31 December 2020 with the current troop and police ceiling. The resolution also requested the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of theAUC to provide the Security Council with a Special Report no later than 31 October 2020, assessing ‘the situation on the ground… the capacity of the Government of Sudan… to protect civilians… and recommendations on the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.’ The UNSC is expected to deliberate on the drawdown and exist of UNAMID based on the guidance provided in the report.

In line with this resolution, the joint AUC Chair and UNSG report is expected to provide an analysis of the security situation in Darfur, outcome of the Juba peace agreement, ongoing efforts for protection of civilians and key recommendations for the transition from UNAMID to UNITAMS.

Moreover, in light of the joint October 2020 visit to Sudan by Commissioner Smail Chergui and Jean-Pierre Lacroix, it would be of interest for PSC members to be briefed about the political and security situation in Darfur. In this respect, it is worth noting that despite very encouraging political developments in Sudan, the situation in Darfur remains concerning. Apart from the presence of armed opposition groups, the sources of insecurity include notably inter- communal clashes, land related clashes and attacks on civilians which have increased from the third quarter of 2020. Between June and October 2020, UNAMID recorded a total of 146 fatalities including 111 fatalities in July alone as a result of 31 clashes and disputes, marking a more than four-fold increase of casualties compared to the same period in 2019 and a more than eight-fold increase from that of in 2018.

With regards to the ongoing security risks, another key issue that is expected to be discussed in tomorrow’s briefing is the National Plan for Protection of Civilians that was officially submitted to the UNSC and its implementation. The Juba peace agreement itself has created a framework to address the protection of civilians through comprehensive measures covering security, justice and reconciliation, protection of refugees and internally displaced persons.

In terms of the peace process, tomorrow’s session will discuss the developments that followed the Juba peace agreement signed between the Transitional Government of Sudan, the Sudan Revolutionary Front coalition of armed opposition groups, and the Sudan Liberation Front led by Minni Minawi on 3 October 2020 and the Declaration of Principles signed between Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the SPLM-N faction led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu on 3 September 2020.

The briefing, in line with the recommendations of the report, will also present the action points leading to UNAMID’s drawdown and UNITAMS’s deployment. The transition will be marked by the shift from the physical protection provided by UNAMID to UNITAMS’s role in supporting the implementation of the National Plan for Protection of Civilians, peacebuilding activities, economic recovery and development. Moreover, the key recommendations outlined in the report include the termination of UNAMID’s mandate by 31 December 2020 and the full operationalization of the UNITAMS as per the Security Council resolution 2524 (2020); UN, the AU and IGAD in close collaboration with the government of Sudan to provide support in sustaining peace in Darfur and the need to conduct a lessons learnt exercise to document UNAMID’s experience.

Commissioner Chergui’s briefing may further provide overview on the outcome of the Tripartite (AU – UN – Government of Sudan) Coordination Mechanism (TCM) on UNAMID that was held in October 2020. His briefing may also touch on the possible follow up technical meeting between the National Committee and UNAMID that is expected to deliberate and rollout actions in the period after December 31.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC is expected to endorse the recommendations of the report including the termination of UNAMID’s mandate in December 2020 and the subsequent deployment of UNITAMS. It may welcome the signing of the Juba agreement and express its wish for the effective implementation of the agreement to ensure peace and stability in Darfur and more broadly in Sudan. It may also commend the Government of Sudan for the development of a National Plan for Protection of Civilians. It may express concern over the recent rise in violence and insecurity in Darfur and may urge for a smooth transition that pays particular attention to the protection of civilians and to prevent any security vacuum in the area. It may stress the importance of continued and strengthened engagement of the AU in the aftermath of UNAMID and more particularly for the AU to play an active role in the peacebuilding and development process of the country. In this respect, the PSC may request that the presence of the AU in Sudan is strengthened for supporting both the transitional process and the implementation of peace agreements and post-conflict reconstruction and development measures.


Briefing on the Situation in Abyei

Sudan

Date | 24 November, 2020

Tomorrow (24 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold a virtual meeting to receive a briefing on the situation in Abyei.

The Chairperson of the AU High Level Implementation (AUHIP) Panel Thabo Mbeki is expected to brief the Council. United Nations Interim Security Forces for Abyei (UNISFA) Force Commander may also provide a briefing. The representative of Sudan also as the Chair of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and representative of South Sudan are scheduled to present. The UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa may also deliver a statement.

The meeting is taking place after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) renewed the mandate of UNISFA for another six months. It would have been useful if the PSC meeting had taken place ahead of the mission’s mandate renewal. This would have given the African members of the Security Council a clear guidance to reflect Africa’s views and perspectives in the negotiation process.

Be that as it may, in light of the resolution adopted by the Security Council, the meeting of the AUPSC will be critical to pronounce itself on some of the salient issues. There is pressure particularly from the penholder underscoring the need for an exit strategy for UNISFA. Over the last couple of years, the US has been calling for a significant reduction of the UN peacekeeping budget and, hence, pushing for exit of some of the UN missions. What made the situation further complicated as far as UNISFA is concerned relates to the fact that the parties have not been able to make much of a progress in terms of the political track. Although there have lately been positive developments in the bilateral relations between Sudan and South Sudan, this has not yet been translated into concrete action, particularly in terms of resolving the outstanding issues, including the final status of Abyei. Therefore, by insisting on the exit strategy, the Council and particularly the penholder, is trying to exert pressure on the parties to make progress.

There has indeed been increasing frustration that the parties have not made progress in establishing joint institutions as per their 2011 agreement. There is also disappointment over the delay in the deployment of UN police and denial of visas, the impasse in the appointment of a civilian Deputy Head of Mission. These issues need to be resolved to assist the mission in effectively carrying out its mandates. Every possible effort must also be made to capitalize on the positive momentum generated by the warm bilateral relations between Sudan and South Sudan.

No doubt, the mission cannot stay there indefinitely but it should also be understood that it is premature for the mission to withdraw at this stage. Since UNISFA has been deployed nine years ago, it has certainly contributed in stabilizing the Abyei Area. The mission, which is composed solely of Ethiopian peacekeepers has been recognized for effectively discharging its mandate, including the facilitation of peaceful migration, conflict prevention, mediation, and deterrence. A premature withdrawal without the resolution of the outstanding issues will have the risk of undermining the stability of the Abyei area and jeopardize the fragile transition processes in both Sudan and South Sudan. But then the issue is the parties will have to make tangible progress. The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) working together the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa is expected to intensify mediation efforts to encourage both Sudan and South Sudan to establish temporary administrative and security arrangements for Abyei and to achieve a political solution for the status of Abyei. Some important work is expected to be done over the coming six months.

The UN Secretary-General is requested by the Security Council to hold a joint consultation with the governments of Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia to discuss the exit strategy for UNISFA and develop options. He is also expected to report on engagement by the African Union and AUHIP on political mediation of the Abyei dispute and Sudan and South Sudan border issues, and recommendations on the most appropriate framework, structure or organizational mandate for the region to provide support to the parties that will enable further progress in these areas. Furthermore, the Security Council has expressed its intention to request an independent review of UNISFA in the context of recent political developments between and within Sudan and South Sudan and based on the outcomes of the above-mentioned joint consultation.

The exepected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may welcome the recent mandate renewal of UNISFA for the next six month. The PSC may deliberate on the exit strategy of the mission and chart out the way forward. It may call on the AU Commisison for enhanced and continued support for the mediation efforts between Sudan and South Sudan.


VTC BRIEFING ON THE SITUATION IN THE SUDAN

Sudan

Date | 17 June, 2020

Tomorrow (17 June) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to consider the situation in the Sudan. The meeting is scheduled to take place through video teleconference. The AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, is expected to make a statement. The PSC is also expected to receive a presentation from the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) to Sudan, Mohammed Belaich. Representatives of Sudan, as concerned country, and Niger, as the coordinator of the Africa three (A3) non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), are also expected to make statement.

In order to support the transition in Sudan, it is to be recalled that the PSC requested the Chairperson of the AU Commission to regularly brief the Council on the situation, in particular, on the implementation of the Political Agreement and the Constitutional Document. It has been a year since former President Omar Al-Bashir was ousted from power and barely a month is also left for the first anniversary of the political agreement reached between Sudanese political stakeholders on the establishment of a transitional government, which will last for 39 months.

Tomorrow’s meeting will afford members the opportunity to review the progress and challenges in implementing the agreement over the past one year and exchange views on ways and means of assisting Sudan in this arduous transition process. This discussion will, of course, take place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far infected more than five thousand Sudanese and killed more than 300 of them, according to data compiled by the Africa CDC. Sudan is one of the most affected countries in the Eastern Africa region and the pandemic is impacting the country by further compounding its multiple and complex socio-economic and political challenges.

Despite some positive steps taken including the launching of a peace process and the adoption of economic recovery plan, however, Sudan remains mired in deep seated problems.

The first of these challenges relate to the economy. The transitional government has inherited a very weak economy suffering from the nearly $60 billion debt burden, widespread unemployment and rising inflation and cost of living. With very little tools at its disposal for addressing the plethora of economic woes facing the country, Sudan needs major external economic support. Prime Minister Abdela Hamdok says the country requires up to $10 billion to stabilize the currency and help the administration tackle key challenges over the next two years. Without getting the much-needed relief, things could likely get worse, thus further weakening an already precarious state of the transitional government. The country also faces a pressure of lifting subsidies, which can further compound the economic woes facing the general public. Lifting subsidies at this point in time could trigger social unrest and instability.

Related to the economy is the issue of the removal by the US of Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. This has been considered as one of the major stumbling blocks for the country in rehabilitating its economy and attracting much needed international financial intervention.
As pointed out in our analysis on the agenda of the session the PSC held in January on this subject, some of the conditions US officials advanced for removing Sudan from the list include: more cooperation on counterterrorism; improved human rights protections, including freedom of religion and the press; increased humanitarian access; ending fighting and conflicts with rebels within Sudan; showing that Sudan has ceased supporting terrorism, ensuring that no Sudanese weapons in terrorist hands; and compensating those affected by the terrorist incidents for which responsibility is attributed to Sudan.

Since then, while progress has been made on various files including the agreement of Sudan to pay financial compensations to family members of people killed or injured in terrorist attacks in the 1990s, there remain no clear timeline and arrangement for the removal of Sudan from the list.

It is to be recalled that the PSC had called for the lifting of all economic and financial sanctions on Sudan, including removing Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism. There is renewed call for the removal of Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism to allow the country to address its socio-economic difficulties and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apart from the update on the transitional process, during tomorrow’s session the representative of Sudan is expected to provide further details on the challenges facing Sudan and what the transitional government is doing to address these. Also, of importance for the PSC is update by the
Sudanese representative on whether there is any progress in the discussions between Sudan and the US regarding the removal of Sudan from the list of state sponsor of terrorism.

Another challenge facing the transition relates to the implementation of the transitional activities. In terms of the assembly have as yet to be implemented. This in part has to do with the lack of progress in the peace talks.

The transitional government, which was formed through civilian-military coalition is already fragile and tensions have been simmering underneath the surface. It is against this backdrop that an assassination attempt was made on the life of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdock. In his recent encounter with the media, Prime Minister Hamdock is said to have acknowledged the challenges in the relationship between the civilian and military components of the power-sharing government. With the military continuing to exert enormous influence and the civilian government lacking enough tools at its disposal, the challenge now is how to keep the transition on track.

During tomorrow’s meeting, the SRCC Belaich is expected to provide the PSC update on the progress and challenges in the Sudanese transitional process including the peace talks. Indeed, the peace process is another area of interest for the PSC in the transitional process.

Peace talks with various armed groups have been under way since 14 October 2019 hosted by South Sudan. Despite some progress the parties reported, there remain some important challenges. The first challenge is that the talks are not proceeding as initially planned. Although this process was initially scheduled to be concluded in February, it has since been postponed to June 2020. Second, the parties participating in the talks in Juba have as yet to reach agreement on security arrangements. Third, two armed groups with military presence on the ground, namely Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/AW) Abdul Wahid and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North, Al-Hilu (SPLM-N-Al Hilu) for the Darfur track and the Two Areas tracks respectively remain outside the peace talks. Additionally, it is feared that the break-up of the Sudan revolutionary Front, a coalition of armed groups, would further complicate the peace talks.

Tomorrow’s session is also expected to review the situation relating to the gradual withdrawal of UNAMID and a transition to a peacebuilding mission. This is an issue in respect of which the representative of Niger is expected to provide update to the PSC. The PSC had called for ‘extreme caution on the withdrawal of UNAMID, in order to sustain the gains made and to avoid relapse and security vacuum’.

Accordingly, the UNSC adopted resolution 2525 (2020) extending the mandate of UNAMID until 31 December 2020, taking into account the views expressed by the AUPSC. The UNSC also endorsed the creation of the UN Integrated Transitional Assistance Mission to Sudan (UNITAMS). It also requested the UN Secretary- General to continue transition planning and management to ensure a phased, sequenced, and efficient transition from UNAMID to UNITAMS.

Even though this new mission will be a fully-fledged UN special political and peacebuilding mission, it is acknowledged that the role of the AU remains critical. Resolution 2524 also encouraged UNITAMS, UNAMID and the AU to ensure coherence, coordination, and complementarity of their support to Sudan. It also underlined the critical importance of the continued strategic and political partnership between the UN and the AU in Sudan.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. It is expected that the PSC would affirm its support for the transitional government headed by Prime Minister Hamdok and welcome the positive steps taken by the transitional government over the past one year. The PSC may reiterate its call to bilateral and international partners to mobilize assistance in support of the Sudan. In this regard, it may take note of the donor’s conference to be jointly hosted by Sudan, Germany and the UN on 25 June to help Sudan raise funds for its economic recovery and development. It may reiterate its call for the lifting of all economic and financial sanctions on Sudan and may in particular urge the US to act with speed for removing Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, with a view to enhancing the economic activities of the country and encouraging foreign investments. The PSC may also encourage the Government of Sudan to continue its effort to ameliorate the economic challenges facing Sudanese and avoid adopting economic measures that may trigger social unrest and instability. The PSC may take note of resolutions 2524 and 2525 adopted by the UNSC on the deployment of UNITAMS and the extension of the mandate of UNAMID, respectively. It may reaffirm the need for the AU to continue playing an active role in the transition process and enhance its visibility in this regard. The PSC may express concern over the slow progress in negotiation between the transitional government and armed opposition groups and call for renewed efforts with participation of the two armed groups not taking part in the peace talks to facilitate the signing of a comprehensive agreement with all the armed opposition groups to silence the guns in the Sudan and achieve lasting and durable peace in the country.


VTC briefing on the Situation in Darfur and the activities of UNAMID

Sudan

Date | 21 May, 2020

Tomorrow (21 May) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to receive a briefing on the situation in Darfur and the activities of UNAMID. Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security and Jeremiah Nyamane Kingsley Mamabolo, the Joint Special Representative and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) are expected to brief the Council. Representative of Sudan is also expected to make a statement.

The briefing is expected to take place via video teleconference (VTC).

It is to be recalled that in October 2019 the UN Security Council (UNSC) had decided to extend UNAMID’s mandate for one year through resolution 2495 (2019). In the same resolution the UNSC also decided that the mission would maintain its current troop and police levels until 31 March 2020. However, on 30 March 2020 due to the current spread of COVID19 pandemic and the ensuing restrictions on movement, the UNSC decided to extend the date to 31 May 2020 and for UNAMID to maintain all team sites for mandate implementation.

Stressing that UNAMID remains a joint deployment of the AU and the UN, the PSC, during its last meeting on UNAMID on 3 March 2020, has particularly underlined the need for UNAMID drawdown and its follow up mechanism to maintain this hybrid nature and the importance of the joint engagement until the end of the mandate. Accordingly, during tomorrow’s session the PSC is expected to deliberate on the various developments including the political and security situation in Darfur and broadly in Sudan, the spread of the pandemic and their impact on the operations and the drawdown of UNAMID. The session is also taking place ahead of the UNSC meeting that is expected to take place around the end of the month to adopt a resolution establishing a follow-on presence that takes the place of UNAMID after 31 May. Hence it will be a critical session to inform the decisions at the upcoming meeting.

The political situation in Sudan remains tense. The 9 March attack on the convoy of Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was a clear indication of the continuous internal power struggle between the various factions of the transitional government. The peace talks between the transitional government of Sudan and opposition armed groups have also experienced some challenges. Agreement is yet to be reached with the SPLM-N faction led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu. The Darfur track has also experienced some delays and resistance from the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) to join the process. As noted by the head of UN Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix in a briefing to UNSC on 24 April, inter-communal clashes have persisted, underscoring the importance of peacebuilding interventions that go beyond peace processes.

It is expected that PSC will receive update from Chergui on how the AU can enhance support to the transitional process in Sudan and the follow up from the AU on the PSC’s 913th session on UNAMID. During a discussion that the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security held with Prime Minister Hamdok earlier in the month, he stated that the AU and the UN will jointly play an integral role post-UNAMID. Another issue to be addressed is how the AU enhance its role rallying African and international support for the economic recovery of the country, which is crucial for the stability of the power sharing government and the transitional process.

It will be important for tomorrow’s session to deliberate on AU’s role in the follow-on mechanism post- UNAMID. In the joint report prepared by the AU Chairperson and UN Secretary General in March measures were identified by taking in consideration the request made by Prime Minister Hamdok through two letters submitted to the Secretary General. The letter submitted on 27 January calls for the reconfiguration of the UN presence and for the establishment of a Chapter VI peace support operation in the form of a special political mission. The second letter sent a month letter requested the UN’s support in peace negotiations among the Sudanese parties as well as assistance with mobilising economic and development and humanitarian aid.

Based on the request the report identified four core objectives for a post-UNAMID presence in the Sudan: (a) To support achievement of the political benchmarks in the Constitutional Declaration, including the preparations towards the Constitution and elections; (b) To support implementation of peace agreements in the conflict- affected areas, including security arrangements, such as ceasefire monitoring and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, if required, and accountability and transitional justice; (c) To support national-led peacebuilding and the strengthening of human rights and rule of law institutions, and the scaling-up of support for recovery and development to build resilience and mitigate protection risks; (d) To facilitate international support for economic reform that would set the country on a path to sustainable development.

For the realization of these objectives the report articulates a number of principles. The one on the continued partnership between the AU and UN will be of particular interest to the PSC. The report recognizes the role the PSC has played through landmark decisions in 2019 to deter military seizure of power. And also noted the interest demonstrated by some Sudanese stakeholders on the potential role of the AU as a guarantor of a peace agreement.

In this context, an issue of particular importance for the PSC is how to provide political guidance on how to elevate AU’s strategic engagement and presence in post- UNAMID period.

Tomorrow’s briefing is also the first the PSC will be considering the situation in Darfur and UNAMID in the context of COVID19. Sudan has the highest case of confirmed cases with close to 3000. Due to the existing vulnerabilities in regions such as Darfur, it is feared that the impact of the pandemic will be devastating. The PSC may particularly focus on the effects of the pandemic on the safety and livelihood of vulnerable communities that will be disproportionately affected by the pandemic. A large community that continues to be displaced by conflicts does not have access to regular and timely life saving information and the necessary tools to fight the pandemic. Ongoing clashes and fighting as well as the restriction on movement also deter the provision of humanitarian assistance. In this context the PSC is expected to pronounce itself on the need to pay particular attention to vulnerable groups in Darfur and it may urge all political actors to make efforts in combatting the pandemic.

COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty worldwide. In the Sudan case, it has brought about more socio-economic stress to an already economically challenged transitional process under way in the country. It is a difficult task to prepare timeline and actions in this current context. Nonetheless, it will be important for the Council to assess the implication of the pandemic on the security situation and political process of the country to ensure that emerging challenges are addressed amicably.

The expected outcome is communiqué. The PSC may particularly express concern over the current pandemic and its impact on the most vulnerable section of the people. During this critical time it may reiterate the need for cessation of hostilities and may in particular urge the Government and opposition armed groups to redouble their efforts in the negotiation process. It may in particular call on Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) and the SPLM-N faction led by Abdelaziz al- Hilu to join the respective peace processes pertaining to Darfur and the two areas. With regards to the follow-on mechanism, it is expected that the PSC will reiterate the communique of its 913th session on the need for maintaining the hybrid character of both the process of the drawdown and the make-up of the post-UNAMID as a means of both securing the gains made through the joint mission and leveraging effectively the comparative advantage of the AU in supporting the transitional process in Sudan. In the light of inter-ethnic clashes and concerns around COVID19 including its impact on UNAMID, the PSC may urge closer collaboration between UNAMID and the Sudan Government to support local peacebuilding efforts. Regarding the transitional process, the PSC will urge the members of the power sharing agreement that established the transitional government to sustain the spirit of cooperation and consultation in the implementation of the transitional agenda and in addressing emerging issues.


Briefing on the Situation in Sudan

Sudan

Date | 6 October, 2020

Tomorrow (6 October) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to discuss on the situation in the Sudan, which is the only country situation in the program work of the PSC for the month. Although it was initially envisaged that the PSC will consider the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, the session has since been changed into a briefing session. This session is envisaged to take place virtually through VCT.

It is expected that the PSC will receive a briefing from the Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson and Head of the AU Liaison Office in Sudan, Mohamed Belaichi. The representative of Sudan is also expected to make a statement both as representative of Sudan and in Sudan’s capacity as Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

It is to be recalled that the PSC requested the Chairperson of the AU Commission to regularly brief the Council on the situation in the Sudan, in particular, on the implementation of the Political Agreement and the Constitutional Document. Tomorrow’s briefing is expected to provide an update on the overall political situation, the evolution of the transition including the peace process launched following the establishment of the transitional government. Other issues of major concern include the economic situation and the progress towards removing Sudan from the US list of states sponsoring terrorism.

The major development in the transition process in Sudan is the significant progress registered in the peace process that has been launched following the establishment of the transitional government. On 3 October, a landmark peace deal was signed in South Sudan’s capital Juba by the transitional government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front – a coalition of armed opposition groups. The regional body IGAD, the AU and the UN have all welcomed the signing of the peace deal as a significant step forward towards bringing lasting peace and stability in the Sudan, although not all armed groups are part of this deal.

The other major armed opposition groups, which are not part of this peace deal are the Al-Hilu faction of SPLM/N and the Abdul Wahid faction of Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). Al-Hilu has already signed an agreement of principles with Sudan’s Prime Minister in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3 September. This is considered encouraging. Al-Hilu is said to have attended the signing ceremony in Juba and met with Prime Minister Hamdok and President Salva Kiir to discuss about the ongoing talks between his movement and the transitional government. However, Abdul-Wahid’s faction continues to reject talks with the transitional government and downplayed the significance of the peace deal signed in Juba.

The signing of the peace deal is only the first step, but challenges lie ahead in terms of its implementation. The need for the parties to translate their commitment into action will be critical to move the country forward. Apart from the challenges of implementation that arise from the internal power dynamics of the transitional government and the influence of various security entities in Sudan, a major formidable test for the peace process is the economic situation in Sudan. This will also pose a major challenge in financing the implementation of the peace deal. It is feared that this will test the resolve of the parties for honoring their commitments under the deal signed in Juba.

Belaichi’s briefing may shed lights on the scale of the economic pressure facing Sudan. There is already growing frustration within the society with protesters resurfacing again on the streets. The country has already declared a state of economic emergency because of the drastic fall of the Sudanese Pound. That is why it needs international support, but it may not be easy to come by given the current realities in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic even though there was generous pledge made by partners to support the transition during the Berlin Conference.

One of the major stumbling blocks for the country in rehabilitating its economy and attracting much needed investment from outside has been the fact that Sudan remains in the list of state sponsors of terrorism. This is one of the issues that the representative of Sudan may provide update on. Progress has been made in the discussion with the US on removing Sudan from the list and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his letter to the Senate Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell, has urged US lawmakers to support the removal explaining the progress made in the discussion on compensation to the victims of the 1998 terrorist attack on US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and underscoring the need to support the transition process in the Sudan. However, this is now overshadowed by new demands that the country should take cues from other Gulf countries in normalizing its ties with Israel. This appears to be creating obstacles to the delisting process, which was expected to happen this month.

Sudan has also declared another emergency because of the worst flooding which overflooded the Nile river banks. More than half a million Sudanese are said to have been affected by this disaster and 99 people lost their lives. This disaster has further compounded already existing challenges and left many Sudanese in need of humanitarian assistance. This is another issue in respect of which both Belaichi and the representative of Sudan are expected to provide analysis on how this emergency would affect Sudan’s transition.

The transition in Sudan would certainly benefit from strong and sustained regional and international backing. It is to be recalled that, in January, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdock had requested the United Nations “to seek a Security Council mandate to establish, as soon as possible, a Chapter VI peace support operation in the form of a special political mission with a strong peacebuilding component”. He further requested that the mission’s mandate should cover the entire territory of Sudan. Although there were some complications in the ensuing discussion on the deployment of the mission with regard to the mandate of the mission and its composition, the United Nations Security Council eventually adopted resolution 2524 (2020) establishing an integrated transition assistance mission in the Sudan. The mandate of the mission includes, among others, to support the transition process, provide good offices for peace negotiations, assist in peacebuilding, civilian protection, and rule of law, and support the state’s capacity to extend its presence.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The PSC is expected to welcome the signing of the peace deal between the Sudan government and armed groups in Juba and express its full support for the deal. The PSC may also encourage those groups which are not part of the peace deal to join the peace deal which promises lasting peace and stability to the whole of Sudan. The PSC may recognize the enormous challenges that the country continues to face and reiterate its call to bilateral and international partners to mobilize assistance in support of the Sudan. In this regard, it may urge partners to redeem the pledge made in the Berlin Conference. The PSC may also once again reiterate its call for the lifting of all economic and financial sanctions on Sudan, most notably the removing Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, more so considering the commitment that Sudan’s transitional government demonstrated by fulfilling the demands of the US government relating to compensation for bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The PSC may also encourage countries in the region and the AU as well as partners to enhance their support to the transitional process in Sudan and commend the support that various countries extended in support of the transitional government.


Briefing on the Situation in Darfur and UNAMID

Sudan

Date | 03 March, 2020

Tomorrow (3 March) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to receive a briefing on the situation in Darfur and the UNAMID transition. Jeremiah Nyamane Kingsley Mamabolo the Joint Special Representative and Head of the UNAMID and the AU Peace and Security Department are expected to brief the Council.

Tomorrow’s session is an occasion to look into the political and security context in which the drawdown and the planned exit of UNAMID will take place. In October 2019, at its last session on Darfur and UNAMID, the PSC has urged the Sudanese government ‘in cooperation with the AU and UN to agree on a comprehensive withdrawal roadmap and to ensure that the process is carefully sequenced, conditions based, and aligned with the priorities and timelines of the Government’.

Following the PSC meeting, UNSCR 2495 (2019) decided that until 31 March 2020 UNAMID will maintain its current troop and police ceilings and during this time UNAMID will maintain all team sites for mandate implementation, with the exception of its sector headquarters in South Darfur, which shall be closed. The UNSC further noted that by the end of March it would make a decision on ‘courses of action regarding the responsible drawdown and exit of UNAMID’ and ‘to adopt a new resolution at the same time, establishing a follow-on presence to UNAMID’. Prior to the UNSC decision on UNAMID however, the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the UN Secretary-General are expected to provide the UNSC with a special report including an assessment of the situation on the ground, an update on the peace process, information on the status of UNAMID team sites previously handed over to the government, recommendations on the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID, and options for a follow-on presence to UNAMID. The PSC may also receive an update on the status of the report.

For members of the PSC, the first issue to look into during tomorrow’s session is the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur in particular and Sudan in general. The situation remains volatile. The intercommunal clashes that erupted in West Darfur around end of December have further exacerbated the precarious conditions. Taking in consideration these factors the PSC may also assess the risks associated with the security vacuum that may be created with the drawdown.

Other issues of interest for the PSC include the factors and conditions that will determine the drawdown before the set deadline.

Ahead of the various meetings that are planned at the UNSC level, the PSC session may provide members the opportunity to frame a clear position on the drawdown based on the assessment of the situation on the ground and may also identify key measures. The PSC may also assess the situation in Darfur in relation to the transition of the country and the impact it may have on the wider political process that is unfolding in Sudan. To this end, the PSC may further examine the implication of the troop drawdown on the security situation in Darfur. In terms of timing, convening this meeting early in the month is also essential to ensure that the outcome informs subsequent meetings planned at the UNSC. In the context of the transition, some progress was made in the political sphere. The session may look into the process and outcome of the recently signed peace agreement. UNAMID has played a key role in repositioning itself in the support of the peace process in line with provisions of the Constitutional Declaration.

The mission has been engaged in the negotiation process by providing technical support to the Sudanese peace talks between the Transitional Government of Sudan and the armed movements represented by the Sudan Revolution Front (SRF) and Sudan People Liberation Movements- North of Abdul Aziz Alhilu and Malik Agar held in Juba. The peace talks were concluded with the signing of the framework agreement signed between the Transitional Government of Sudan and the Darfur armed movements on 28 December 2019.

The signing of the agreement requires further follow up. As indicated in the October 2019 AUC Chair and UNSG report the implementation of the agreement will entail coordinated work and resources on the security arrangements, the voluntary return and durable solutions for internally displaced persons and refugees, the system of governance, issues of land, transitional justice and reconciliation. This will require the concerted and coordinated efforts of the AU and UN under the guidance of the government of Sudan. Critical in this respect is the presence that the AU and the UN would have following the exit of UNAMID.

The PSC at its 884th session and later at its 906th session in January 2020 has reiterated its decision to undertake a visit to Sudan. Although this visit has yet to materialize, it will be an important step for the PSC to collect all the necessary first-hand information and to also formulate the way forward based on the outcome of the engagement it has with the actors on the ground.

This will enable the PSC to assess the situation in Darfur and to also examine if it indeed allows the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. Thus, the PSC may set a new timeframe for the planned visit. The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may urge for a phased drawdown that is informed by the security and humanitarian needs of people in Darfur. The PSC may stress the need that the drawdown should not put at risk the political gains made so far and the ongoing peace process in the country. The Council may welcome the signing of the framework agreement and ongoing talks and may call for the signing of the final peace agreement. It may also urge the parties to honor their commitments. The PSC may further reiterate its previous calls for the lifting of the sanctions imposed against Sudan and to de-list the country from the list of state sponsor of terrorism to support the country’s transition and economic recovery. It may also call for further support for the upcoming donor conference in April 2020.