Briefing on the Situation in Sudan

Sudan

Date | 30 January, 2020

Tomorrow (30 January) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to receive a briefing on the situation in the Sudan. The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) and Head of the AU Liaison Office to Sudan Mohamed Belaiche is expected to brief the Council. Also invited for addressing the Council are Sudan, expected to be represented at the level of State Minister for Foreign Affairs and the US Special Envoy to Sudan, Donald Booth.

The main focus of the session is on how to address the economic challenges facing Sudan and guarantee the success of the transitional process in Sudan. Since 1993, the United States has kept Sudan and its former leader, Omar al-Bashir on its state sponsors of terrorism list. This has serious consequences for the transition in Sudan. Most notably, it directly affects the economy that is in desperate need of revitalization based principally on international support and economic cooperation.

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 stabilise the currency and help the administration tackle key challenges over the next two years.

Sudan however cannot mobilize international economic support while it is still on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. In December, Hamdok was on an official visit to the US aiming at engaging US authorities on the normalization of relations between the two countries and the removal of Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list. In a speech that he delivered during his stay in the US, he stated that Sudan’s removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism ‘has a lot of bearing on so many processes, not to mention debt and investment but also opening the country at large,’ and ‘unless it is addressed, all these other processes will not take place’. Many agree that removing Sudan from the list will open the door for access to essential financial support and address the economic stress facing Sudan.

During tomorrow’s session the representative of Sudan is expected to provide further details on the challenges facing Sudan and how keeping Sudan in the US state sponsors of terrorism affects the transitional process in Sudan. Also, of importance for the PSC is update by the Sudanese representative about the outcome of Hambdok’s visit to the US that took place last December and measures Sudan is taking for getting its removal from the list.

The two countries have agreed to exchange Ambassadors for the first time in 23 years. Hamdok said some progress has been made during his visit to the U.S., but he admitted that the process of removing Sudan from the U.S. terrorism list could take time. During a visit to Sudan, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy who visited Sudan recently was asked about this issue and he said, “we see a very positive partner with whom we can do business. We have active negotiations going on in a number of areas. We are optimistic”.

During tomorrow’s meeting, the PSC is expected to hear from Booth on US’s assessment of the support required for forestalling the collapse of the transitional process in Sudan and the role of the removal of Sudan from US state sponsors of terrorism list. Most specifically, PSC member states would be keen to know the conditions that are required for getting the removal of Sudan from the list and the plan of the US for helping Sudan meet those conditions. Some of the conditions that senior officials of the US State Department indicated 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. Hamdok is reported to have said that the two points still under discussion are the cooperation of Sudan regarding the war on terrorism and compensations to U.S. victims of the terrorist attacks against U.S. embassies.

The last time the PSC met was in September when it decided to lift the suspension of the participation of Sudan in the AU’s activities following the establishment of the transitional government and the appointment of the new prime minister. 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, with a view to enhancing the economic activities of the country and encouraging foreign
investments. In the same meeting, the PSC agreed to continue to closely monitor the development of the situation in Sudan and requested the Chairperson of the AU Commission to regularly brief the Council on the situation in Sudan, in particular, on the implementation of the Political Agreement and the Constitutional Document. During tomorrow’s meeting, the SRCC Belaiche is expected to provide the PSC update on the progress and challenges in the Sudanese transitional process. It has been more than five months since the Sudanese transitional government was formed, and under the leadership of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdock, it has taken series of measures aimed at addressing the country’s multiple and complex challenges. The transitional government has recently adopted a general framework that guides its work and sets out its key priorities. In this regard, it has been working to put an end to war as a matter of priority with a view to building a comprehensive and sustainable peace in the country.

Some encouraging progress is registered. Prime Minister Hamdock has visited rebel held areas in a gesture of peace, which was widely welcomed. Most recently, the transitional government signed a peace deal with the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) for bringing an end to the conflict affecting the two areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

It is expected that SRCC Belaiche will also address the issue of how the economic situation affects the transitional process. Sudan continues to face enormous socio-economic difficulties; addressing the grievances of the people and giving the Sudanese youth a sense of hope and future is a herculean task for the transitional government. In this regard, it has been taking series of steps to revive the moribund economy by undertaking reform measures to address macro-economic and structural imbalances.

Prime Minister Hamdock has been visiting countries of the region and beyond in a renewed diplomatic engagement. At the 13th Ordinary Summit of IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa in November last year, Sudan was elected to the Chairmanship of IGAD replacing Ethiopia. At this important juncture, Sudan certainly needs all the support from the international community to surmount its current political, security and socio-economic challenges and meet the needs and aspirations of its people. Kuwait is said to be planning to host an international donors Conference in support of Sudan in April/May. The Conference is expected to mobilize financial contributions to assist the country’s economic reform efforts.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The PSC is expected to review the progress in the implementation of the political agreement in the Sudan and welcome the positive steps taken by the transitional government over the past several months. Given the key role that the AU together with Ethiopia played in facilitating the signing of this agreement, the PSC is expected to urge the US to play its key role of preventing the derailment of the transitional process in Sudan and the peace and security risks that it entails by removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The PSC may in particular call for a plan with specific timeline and agreed parameters underpinned by firm commitments to be jointly drawn up by the US and Sudan towards achieving this objective of removal from the list and facilitating access by Sudan to economic support including for addressing its debt burden. On its part, the PSC may express its commitment to support Sudan towards realizing the assurances that it gives for meeting the conditions for its removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The PSC may also welcome the peace process including the signing in Juba, South Sudan of the peace agreement with the SPLM-N. 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 context, it may welcome the plan by Kuwait to hold an international donors conference.


Briefing on the Situation in Darfur and the Activities of UNAMID

Sudan

Date | 24 October, 2019

Tomorrow (24 October) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council will have a session to consider the situation in Darfur and the activities of AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Jeremiah Nyamane Kingsley Mamabolo the Joint Special Representative and Head of the UNAMID is expected to brief the Council.

Liberia as the Chair of the month and the Director of Peace and Security Department are also expected to make statements. The Council will receive a briefing on report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, which assesses the political and security situation on the ground and provides recommendations on the drawdown and exit strategy of UNAMID. The report is expected to assess the political developments under the new transitional government particularly in relation to the situation in Darfur.

In the political front, the report is expected to provide update on the state of implementation of the agreed arrangements for the transitional process, including those relating to peace. On 6 September, the new government of Sudan under Prime Minister Abdela Hamdok announced the formation of a committee tasked with the responsibility of laying down the groundwork for the constitution of a Peace Commission. The briefing may also provide further details on the on going peace talks between the transitional government and armed movements and the particular role of the AU in providing technical and political support in the process. Following the signing of the Juba Declaration for Confidence Building and Preparation for Negotiation between the Transitional Government and the Sudan armed movements in Juba on September 11, further negotiations and peace talks have taken place. The Sovereignty Council has made concessions to bring on board the Sudan Liberation Army led by Abdul Wahid (SLA‐AW) in the peace talks including through the pardon of prisoners and face to face meeting between Prime Minister Hamdok and Abdul Wahid. The peace talks among the various armed movements have commenced
on October 14 in Juba.

In the security sphere, the situation in Darfur particularly the Jebel Marra area remain tense due to the ongoing fighting between the Sudanese forces and SLA‐AW will be covered. In this context the declaration of a ceasefire by President Burhan on 16 October 2019 is expected to contribute positively in improving the security situation in Darfur. In order to prevent further tension and confrontation among the people the government may also accelerate the work of the national committee to investigate the 3 June massacre.

The briefing is also expected to provide an overview on the status of the UNAMID drawdown and liquidation. In this regard the PSC at 856th session held on 13 June decided the ‘Closure of eight team sites that are no longer active’, for UNAMID troops to ‘be relocated to the remaining team sites which have been identified as security hot spots’ and for the AU and UN in consultation with UNAMID to reconsider the number of civilian staff to ensure that they are commensurate with the requirement of the current mandate implementation’.

The PSC has also tasked the AUC and the UN Secretariat ‘to develop a political strategy that helps address the remaining political challenges, in consultation with the African Union High Level Panel (AUHIP), UNAMID and the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa’. During the oral update to the UNSC on 26 August, Smail Chergui highlighted developments since the PSC 13 June meeting. Chergui stressed AU’s support to the ‘delay in the drawdown plan to reduce the military component ceiling to 4,050 to allow the mission to protect its sites and installations, in particular the logistics hub in El Fasher, thereby maintaining a strength of 4,375’. In the same session Jean Pierre Lacroix highlighted the steps towards the development of the joint AU‐UN political strategy for post‐UNAMID engagement. Lacroix pointed out that AU‐UN would jointly engage the new cabinet to ensure the smooth drawdown and transition from peacekeeping to peace building. Tomorrow’s PSC
session may consider mechanisms in which the AU can provide support and fast track the planned political
strategy.

The report of the Chairperson also expected to highlight on the exit strategy. It may highlight the need to take in consideration the security situation and ongoing peace talks which are expected to extend over the next sixmonth. The report may also reiterate PSC’s 13 June decision on realignment of troops to focus on 5 sites, instead of the cutback on the number of military personnel. The report may further highlight on the need for the post‐UNAMID mechanism to be a home‐grown initiative driven by the government to ensure
sustainability and ownership.

In October, the UNSC is expected to renew the mandate of UNAMID ahead of its expiry on 31 October. On 27 June, the UNSC its resolution 2479 (2019) decided ‘to extend temporarily and exceptionally, the period of drawdown for UNAMID’s military personnel’. Ahead of the session, the UNSC is expected to receive a Special Report by the UN Secretary‐General and the Chairperson of the AUC. Central issues related to the structure and the changes to the mandate of UNAMID in line with the eventual mission’s exit in 2020 are expected to be addressed. Although the AU has clearly stated its support to delay any further drawdown, there are a number of options which the UNSC may explore including executing the existing plan of drawdown.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may commend the political actors in their efforts towards finding a common ground through the peace talks. It may task the Commission to strengthen its efforts in providing technical support to political actors that are participating in the dialogue. With regards to UNAMID the PSC may consider the slowing down of the drawdown particularly to prevent any further risks that may reverse the gains made in the political and security situation. The PSC may also take note of the continuing volatile security situation in Darfur, hence the need for the protection of civilians. It may provide key recommendations and direction towards the development of the joint political strategy and may also articulate its position ahead of the UNSC session on Darfur and UNAMID mandate renewal.


AU-UN briefing on joint field visits to the CAR and Sudan (Darfur)

Sudan

Date | 10 October, 2019

Tomorrow (10 October 2019) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to receive a briefing from Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security and Jean‐Pierre Lacroix, UN Under Secretary‐General for Peacekeeping Operations. The two senior officials are expected to provide updates on the political and security developments in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the situation in Sudan, particularly as it relates to the joint UN‐AU Mission to Darfur (UNAMID).

The briefing by Chergui and Lacroix follows the joint visit to the CAR and Sudan. The joint visit to the CAR, where the AU leads the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR and the UN runs a mission, took place from 4 to 7 October 2019 and involved, apart from Chergui and Lacroix, Koen Vervaeke, Director General for Africa of the European Union External Action Service. This mission follows another joint mission that Chergui and Lacroix undertook to the CAR in April 2019.

It aimed at reviewing progress made and challenges faced in the implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic, signed on 6 February 2019 following negotiations in Khartoum Sudan that Chergui facilitated. During the visit, the mission met with Faustin Archange Touadera, President of the CAR and Firmin Ngrebada, Prime Minister of the CAR. The mission also held discussions with political party leaders, civil society organizations and representatives of diplomatic missions and regional and international organizations. It also received briefings from the civilian and military leaders of the field offices of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African
Republic (MINUSCA). The joint field mission learned that progress has been made in the effort to restore state authority in the CAR. These include the establishment of all Prefects in the 16 prefectures, majority of sub‐prefects, the Technical Safety Committees, Prefectural Implementation Committees and the slow but progressive deployment of the Defense and Security Forces. In his address at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) annual general debate on 29 September, President Touadera told the members of the UN that progress made in the implementation of the peace agreement is modest.

The joint visit also came against the background of continuing violations and fragility of the February agreement. As President Touadera pointed out in his UNGA address CAR remains fragile with armed groups continuing ‘to supply war materials and ammunition illegally’ and committing ‘massive and repeated violations of international humanitarian and human rights law’. In one of the major incidents of violations on 21 May, one of the armed rebel groups 3R ((Retour, Réclamation et Réhabilitation) engaged in armed attacks against civilians killing at least 42 people. In the briefing to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 20 June, the UNSC was informed that ‘every week, 50 to 70 violations of the peace agreement are reported, committed mainly by armed groups against civilians. Violence against civilians, illegal taxation, the obstruction of the deployment of State authority and the occupation of public buildings continue and are a source of deep frustration for the people of the Central African Republic.’

The press statement issued at the end of the joint mission ‘expressed concern over the continuing hostile acts in the country’. The mission also condemned ‘the clashes between armed groups in Birao […] resulting in the displacement of more than 15,000 people’ and ‘the persistence of violations of the Peace Agreement and human rights in other parts of the country, particularly in the northwest in the recent period.’

As the implementation process thus far demonstrated, the foremost challenge facing the agreement relates to the implementation of the security provisions. It would be of particular interest for PSC members on the mission’s assessment of the major issues for the implementation of the security provisions and steps to be taken for addressing them. Also, of interest is how to reduce and eventually put an end to all forms of violence in the CAR, particularly violence targeting civilians.

Following the visit to the CAR, Chergui and Lacroix have also been on a joint filed visit to Sudan with a focus on the joint UN‐AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). As with the visit to the CAR, this mission also followed the joint mission that the two senior AU and UN officials undertook to Darfur, Sudan in April 2019. This joint field mission came after the formation of the new transitional government of Sudan headed by the Sovereign Council and Prime Minister Abdela Hamdok and ahead of the renewal by the UNSC of the mandate of UNAMID before its expiry on 31 October. It is to be recalled that the PSC renewed UNAMID’s mandate for a further period of one year last June.

The joint mission has been undertaken for a period of two days during 8 and 9 October. The visit focused on various issues relating to UNAMID including the drawdown of the mission, planning for a transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, next steps for the Darfur peace process, and post‐UNAMID engagement. During the mission, Chergui and Lacroix together with the representatives of the Government of Sudan held the 27th meeting of the Tripartite Coordination Mechanism on UNAMID in Khartoum on 8 October. This focused on assessing UNAMID’s operations and the progress in the drawdown of UNAMID. Chergui and Lacroix also travelled to El Fahser, Darfur.

They interacted with Sudan officials, women’s groups and UNAMID officials focusing on issues requiring attention for consolidation of peace in Darfur, particularly in the context of the planned exit of UNAMID and the transition to peacebuilding. They have been informed from the leadership of North Darfur Major General Malik Al‐Tayeb that the priority issues for the region include reconciliation and reconstruction works including those necessary for provision of social services such as health and education. During their meeting with Darfur Women’s Protection Network, various issues affecting women have been highlighted. One of the issues they raised which is of particular importance within the framework of UNSC Resolution 1325 was the participation of women in the Darfur peace process.

The visit also covers meetings with the authorities in Khartoum taking place on 9 October. Apart from the process of the exit of UNAMID, issues for discussion with the new transitional government included responsible handing over of responsibilities to Sudan authorities and the UN country team, peacebuilding needs for consolidating peace in Darfur and post‐UNAMID engagement.

Head of new government, Prime Minister Abdela Hamdok highlighted the achievement of peace in Sudan as one of the priorities of his government and to this end he initiated a process for engaging the various armed groups in Sudan, including those in Darfur. On 11 September, after talks facilitated by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, Sudan government and Sudanese armed opposition groups signed roadmap for peace called ‘The Juba Declaration of Confidence Building Measures and the Preparation for Negotiation.’ During a visit to France, PM Hamdok met with the Sudan Liberation Army leader Abdel Wahid al Nur on 29 September in an effort to encourage the SLA leader to join the peace effort under the new political environment in Sudan.

While the negotiated power‐sharing agreement of 17 August that led to the formation of the new transitional government in Sudan and its peace efforts are welcome developments, it would be of interest to PSC members to learn from Chergui and Lacroix whether there is a need for making any adjustment to the UNAMID exit plan in the light of the changes in Sudan. In the communique of its 856th session, the PSC stated that ‘UNAMID exit should not create a vacuum and expose the longsuffering civilian population to renewed risks.’ At the timing of going to press, the outcome of the briefing session was unknown. In respect of the CAR, it is particularly important for the AU, UN and EU to mobilize coordinated and sustained in country engagement targeting in particular the 14 rebel groups parties to the peace agreement and help in putting in place
mechanisms to support local reconciliation efforts and to leverage the influence of neighboring countries
particularly Chad and Sudan for compliance of armed groups with the peace agreement. As far as Sudan is concerned, apart from the assessment on the various issues highlighted above, there is expectation for identifying clear roadmap on the options to be pursued in supporting the peace process in Darfur and importantly the form that the AU‐UN engagement may take upon the departure of UNAMID.


Briefing on the Situation in Sudan

Sudan

Date | 6 September, 2019

Tomorrow (6 September) at 3pm the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold a session on the situation in Sudan. Although it was not included in the program of work of the PSC initially, it was included on the agenda on the request of the AU Commission (AUC) Chairperson. Moussa Faki Mahamat, AUC Chairperson, is expected to brief the PSC. As per established PSC practice, the representatives of Sudan, and Ethiopia, as Chair of the regional body the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), are also expected to make statements.

The main agenda of the session is to review the transition process in Sudan and consider the lifting of the suspension of Sudan from the activities of the AU. It is to be recalled the PSC during its 854th session of 6 June 2019 took a decision suspending Sudan from participating in the activities of the AU. The major consideration for deciding to suspend Sudan as the PSC put was ‘the lack of progress, since its (PSC’s) initial meeting following the Coup d’Etat of 11 April 2019 in Sudan, towards the establishment of a civilian-led Transitional Authority as demanded by Council’. The PSC reached at this assessment following the illegal use of force by security forces on 3 June 2019 that led to the killing of large number of unarmed civilians in Khartoum. This manifested not only the lack of progress in the negotiation process between the Transitional Military Council (TMC), that seized power on 11 April unconstitutionally, and he Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change (FDFC), which represented the protesters and various opposition forces, but also resulted in the suspension of the negotiation process. An announcement was also made by the TMC rescinding agreements reached between the parties when the process broke down at the end of May. While suspending Sudan, the PSC not only rejected ‘the unilateral actions taken by the Transitional Military Council, notably the suspension of dialogue with other Sudanese stakeholders’ but also demanded that ‘the Transitional Military Council and all other concerned Sudanese stakeholders abide by previously reached agreements on the setting up of a civilian-led Transitional Authority’.

Additionally, in demanding ‘the immediate resumption of negotiations, without pre-conditions, between all Sudanese stakeholders towards the establishment of a civilian-led Transitional Authority,’ the PSC tasked the AU Commission Chairperson to immediately take the necessary measures to further strengthen the AU Facilitation Team in Sudan and to liaise closely with the IGAD ‘in bringing together the Sudanese stakeholders back to dialogue, in order to put in place a civilian-led Transitional Authority.’

Accordingly, notwithstanding the suspension the AU working together with Ethiopia, current Chair of IGAD, continued to engage the TMC and the FDFC for resumption of talks. In attempt to break the stalemate in the negotiation over the composition, power and leadership of the sovereign council, a body proposed to be in charge of Sudan during the transition process, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia following a visit to Khartoum tabled a compromise proposal. While the FDFC accepted the compromise proposal, the TMC agreed to resume negotiations on the basis of a reformulated AUEthiopia proposal submitted to the parties at the end of June.

The first breakthrough happened on 5 July when the two sides agreed on the composition, power and leadership of the sovereign council. What has been agreed between the two sides was a power-sharing deal that allows the military instead of transferring power to a civilian-led transitional authority to be part of a negotiated transitional authority sharing power with the civilians. In a statement that he issued on 5 July, AUC Chairperson welcomed the agreement reached. The parties continued negotiations over the constitutional declaration, the constitutional document for the transitional period.

They reached an agreement and initialed the constitutional declaration on 4 August. While welcoming the initialization of the constitutional declarations in a statement he issued on 5 August, AUC Chairperson recognized it as a development that ‘lays the foundations for a democratic transition with a civilian-led government and is an important achievement for Africa in its desire to solve its own problems.’ He also went on to call on ‘all bilateral and multilateral partners to redouble their efforts to provide Sudan and its transitional authorities with the necessary support during this key phase of the country’s history.’

In a major development signifying the conclusions of the mediation process for establishment of a negotiated transitional government, the two parties officially signed the Constitutional Declaration on 17 August, marking the beginning of the three-year transitional period agreed between the parties. On 21 August, the leader of the TMC, Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, has been sworn in as leader of the newly established sovereign council. The other members of the Council were also sworn in on the same day. While the TMC’s reign came to an end, the leadership of the TMC was integrated into the Sovereign Council.

An important development in the implementation of the Constitutional Declaration was the naming of the new Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, who was sworn in on 22 August. The various relevant transitional institutions namely the cabinet and the legislative body of the transitional government have as yet to be in place.

With the progress that has been made both in the negotiation process and importantly in the implementation of the Constitutional Declarations, the expectation is that AUC Chairperson will in his briefing as significant achievements warranting commendation and understandably recommend to the PSC to consider the lifting of the suspension of Sudan. This would also be consistent with his earlier appeal from his statement of 5 August to all multilateral and bilateral partners of Sudan to extend support to the transitional government.

In its decisions since 15 April including in its communique of the 854th session, the PSC demanded the transfer of power by the TMC to a civilian-led transitional authority. This the PSC considered to be the path for Sudan to get out of not only the political crisis but also to end the
unconstitutional seizure of power by the military. While the progress made in the transitional process in Sudan is significant and PSC members would welcome the various milestones achieved, there remain member states of the PSC who are unsure of whether the requirements set for lifting of suspension after unconstitutional changes of government took place.

From the practice of the PSC so far, three trends can be discerned in terms of lifting of suspension for unconstitutional changes of government. In rare cases, as was the case in 1997 in Sierra Leone suspension is lifted on the reinstatement of the government that was unconstitutionally deposed. As experiences, among others, in Madagascar, Guinea Bissau and in the Central African Republic show, the
most common rout for lifting of suspension from AU activities is the establishment of a democratically elected government, seen as a clear mark of restoration of constitutional order. Since what the PSC requested in its decisions was transfer of power to a civilian-led authority, these two avenues will not be applicable to the case of Sudan. The third avenue for lifting of suspension before elections are held is on the establishment of an agreed transitional government as the PSC did for Mali in October 2012.

Clearly if past practice of the PSC is any guide, this third path is the one most fit for the situation in Sudan. This depends on the determination by the PSC of whether ‘effective establishment of civilianled transitional authority’ has been achieved. As noted above, instead of being a fully civilian-led transitional authority, the transitional government, as a product of a power-sharing deal with the TMC, is more civilian in its composition with the military enjoying leadership of the Sovereign Council. Also the leader of the TMC remains to be the leader of the Sovereign Council. As far as the full implementation of the transitional institutions of government is concerned, some of the major institutions such as the legislative council and the constitutional court are yet to be put in place. The cabinet is also in the process of being formed. Another issue for consideration is the establishment of the independent investigation into the killings of 3 June provided for in the communique of the 854th session of the PSC. Indeed, given that it was the AUC Chairperson that the communique tasked to initiate the investigation process, this would be one of the issues on which Faki is expected to update the PSC.

It is evident that the continuing role of the leadership of the TMC in the new transitional government and the unfinished process of the establishment of some of the important institutions
of the transitional government do not exactly reflect ‘effective establishment of civilian-led transitional authority’. Yet, it is difficult to reject the continuing presence of the leadership of the TMC in the newly established transitional government given that the transitional authority was established based on negotiations sanctioned by the PSC, facilitated by the AU Commission and accepted by the civilian stakeholders of Sudan. An area where there is concern on the part of some PSC members that it may be premature to lift suspension relate to the non-completion of the establishment of some of the key institutions of the transitional government and hence they may wish to wait until the cabinet, the legislative council and the constitutional court are constituted.

They may also wish to see progress in the independent investigation into the killings of unarmed civilians by security forces on 3 June as provided for in the PSC communique. However, the
overall sentiment and inclination in the PSC seem to be to encourage the commendable progress made thus far by lifting the suspension. The expected outcome of the session is a communique. If the PSC ultimately opts for the lifting of the suspension, it may however demand for ensuring optimal satisfaction of the terms set in its communique of the 854th session that the transitional government allows and ensures that the independent investigations to be carried out.


Consideration of the renewal of UNAMID mandate

Sudan

Date | 13 June, 2019

Tomorrow (13 June) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold a session to consider the renewal of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)
mandate. Jeremiah Nyamane Kingsley Mamabolo the Joint Special Representative and Head of the UNAMID is expected to brief the Council. The session anticipates the participation of the representatives of the African members of the UNSC (A3). On account of its suspension, Sudan will not have its representative making a statement.

The drawdown of the uniformed personnel, in line with the timetable to reduce the military component from 5,470 to 4,050 personnel and the deployment of a maximum 2500 police force, by 30 June 2019 has been underway as indicated in the latest Secretary General report. However the political turmoil in Sudan has started renewed violence in Central Darfur. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have occupied most of the sites that have been evacuated by the UNAMID troops. The closed UNAMID bases were supposed to be handed over to
the government to use for civilian purposes. In May Sudan’s current governing body – the Transitional Military Council (TMC) – has released a decree demanding that the remaining UNAMID bases be handed over directly to the RSF.

Since the decree, the UN has halted plans to evacuate additional personnel given that the basic agreement of using sites for civilian purposes has not been respected by the current Sudanese authority. The seizure of the sites by the RSF has a great risk of exposing civilians currently protected by UNAMID in Jebel Marra area. This is the same force that has been implicated in the killings committed since 3 June in Khartoum.

As per the planned gradual drawdown, the PSC and UNSC were expected to deliberate on the eventual closure of the peacekeeping troop by June 2020 and its liquidation to be completed by 2020. This process however depends on the security situation on the ground. It is to be recalled that the PSC during its 778 session in June 2018 when renewing the mandate of UNAMID, it has qualified the basis in which the drawdown should take place. The communiqué clearly underlined that the Council should consider key factors mainly ‘[e]nsuring a
gradual drawdown that would allow the Mission’s exit to be guided by the political and security situation on the ground so as not to create a security vacuum and expose civilian populations’.

The volatile political and security situation in Darfur and broadly in Sudan has dramatically changed in the past few weeks, which has posed a number of challenges for the continuation of the current plan for the drawdown of the peacekeeping mission. The Jebel Marra area was already susceptible to violence where the fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) faction has increased over the past few months.

The protests and the ensuing instability have also disrupted the Darfur peace process, as armed groups namely the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Gibril Ibrahim faction of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM/Gibril) withdrew their December 2018 agreement to resume talks with the Government. The protest that has started due to the rising cost of fuel and other commodities has expanded to also include demands for sweeping political reforms. The economic crisis, the rising prices of food and medicines have also particularly affected vulnerable communities in Darfur.

The Joint Special Representative when briefing the UNSC in April 2019 stated that the political situation in Sudan has changed significantly and has the potential to affect the implementation of its mandate going forward. However Sudan’s representative emphasized the domestic nature of events unfolding in the country since December, hence there is no justification for the Council to discuss the matter. During the briefing the US highlighted the need for upcoming strategic review of UNAMID to take into account the impact of recent events on Darfur, including the Government’s ability to protect and provide for the region’s people. Moreover, the representative stated that in a situation where the Government is unable to provide protection, the US is in favour of the Council considering all options.

After this last briefing to the UNSC, the political and security situation has deteriorated. The excessive use of force that was used to disband the sit-in camps near the headquarters of the army. Following these developments Sudan has also been suspended from the AU. Following the diplomatic efforts of
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on 7 June, the TMC arrested leading opposition leaders after
their meeting with Ahmed. In June the UNSC will also hold a session on the UNAMID mandate renewal. This PSC session is expected to be informed by its previous decisions on Sudan given that the on going instability will continue to have direct impact on the situation in Darfur and the troop drawdown. Hence, the session will be key to set the tone ahead of the UNSC session in late June on the question of the kind of adjustment, if any, that needs to be made in the implementation of the drawdown.

The outcome of the session will be a communiqué. This will present the PSC to reconsider the ongoing implementation of drawdown and reconfiguration of UNAMID in light of the recent developments. The PSC is expected to renew the mandate of UNAMID for another twelve month. Another issue for PSC decision is the adjustment of the process of withdrawal until the situation not only in Darfur but also in the country improves. In this respect, the PSC may, among others, consider slowing down of the drawdown while tasking a joint AU and UN review of the situation in Sudan and its implications on UNAMID. The PSC may also pronounce itself on the issue of the handing over of UNAMID facilities to the RSF, which will be contrary to the plan for using the facilities for civilian purposes.


Emergency session on the Situation in Sudan

Sudan

Date | 6 June, 2019

Tomorrow (6 June) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold an emergency session on the situation in Sudan. As this was not initially planned in the provisional program of work of the PSC for June, the session was agreed on following an informal consultation that the PSC had on Monday morning 3 June 2019.

It is expected that the Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the Commission, who has been tasked to follow the situation in Sudan and brief the PSC, will brief the PSC on the most recent developments. Sierra Leone’s Permanente Representative to the AU, Ambassador Brima Patrick Kapuwa, the PSC Chairperson of the month, will also make an opening remark. As per established PSC practice, the representatives of Sudan, and Ethiopia, as Chair of the regional body the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), are also expected to make statements.

Tomorrow’s session follows the latest developments indicating the deterioration of the situation in Sudan. According to various reports, on 3 June a group from the security forces initiated an operation for dispersing the sit-in camp near the military headquarters that has been the epicentre of the protest movement in the days before and since the removal of the country’s long-time President Omer Hassen al Bashir. The accounts of various reports and media footage show that the security forces used live ammunitions and tear gas. While initial reports put the death toll from the violent crackdown at over 30 people, the most recent
reports indicate that it has reached over 60 people. Hundreds of other people have also reportedly been injured.

There were also reports of hospitals and clinics, where the wounded were receiving emergency treatment, being besieged and attacked. Following this incident, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), coordinating body of the protest movement, announced its suspension of all communication with the TMC and called for sweeping civil disobedience against the military council. The Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change (FDFC), which represented the protesters and various opposition forces, also called for the end of military rule. The head of the TMC Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan announced plans for holding elections in a period of nine months. He also declared that the agreements reached with the civilian stakeholders have also been scrapped.

There are concerns that these developments affect the negotiations for the formation of a civilian-led transition in at least two ways. First, the events of 3 June and the subsequent
announcement from both sides has brought the negotiation to a halt. Second, these developments have also reversed the progress made in the negotiations. It is to be recalled that the PSC in its communique of the 852nd session noted the progress made including in particular ‘with regard to the agreement reached on duration of the Transition, the Transitional Institutions and the priorities of the transition’. Another issue for the PSC in the light of these difficult set of situations is whether there is a realistic prospect for an agreement to form a
civilian-led transitional authority after the 3 June tragic events and the rescinding of the agreements reached between the TMC and the FDFC. Central to this question is the implication of the language civilian-led transition vis-à-vis the leadership of the sovereign council.

The AUC Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has released a statement on 3 June. In the statement, he expressed his strong condemnation of the violence and called for ‘an immediate and transparent investigation in order to hold those all responsible accountable’. The statement further stated the demand that
the Sudanese stakeholders return to the negotiations urgently in order to arrive at an inclusive accord, which paves the way for a civilian-led Transitional Authority.

On 4 June, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting called by the United
Kingdom and Germany. While the Council members did not agree on an outcome document, many have expressed concern over the violence against protesters. The UK condemning the violent crackdown killing so many protesters called for agreed transfer of power to civilian-led government. Germany on its part, noting that legitimacy cannot come from the barrel of a gun, stressed ‘the urgent need for a return to the negotiation table to bring about an inclusive, civilian-led transitional government.’ It was reported that Russia during the emergency session of the Council insisted that the Council should await the response of the AU.

For members of the PSC, there are at least two issues that the current situation presents. The first of this is whether under the current circumstances the PSC can continue to wait until the end of the two-month period it set at its 846th session before determining the application of the measures envisaged under the Lome Decalration of 2000 after a military seized power. At the heart of this question is if these are not the kind of situations envisaged in the PSC’s affirmation at its 852nd session that ‘it shall, at any time deemed appropriate in view of the prevailing circumstances in the country, take the necessary measures, including imposition of sanctions, in line with article 7(g) of its Protocol’.

The other issue on which PSC members may wish to get Mahamat’s view is what the
prospects are for the parties to return back to the negotiating table to continue from where the negotiations stopped. While Burhan in his Eid celebrations address expressed regret about the civilian casualties and affirmed readiness for negotiations, it remains uncertain if the SPA and FDFC will accept resumption of talks and if the negotiations will be from scratch or continue from where they stopped.

An IGAD meeting at the level of Ambassadors has been called. It is expected that the meeting will deliberate on how to respond to the latest developments and on a plan to dispatch a delegation to Khartoum. While IGAD has clearly been slow to respond, the outcome of this meeting informs the position that the Chair of IGAD will present during tomorrow’s session. From the deliberations of the meeting IGAD aligns its position with that of the AU. It is noteworthy that IGAD does not have similar rules against military takeover of power and the measures envisaged under the Lome Decalration.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. Depending on whether the PSC decides to apply the Lome Declaration, there are major implications in terms of AU’s zero tolerance position vis à-vis military takeover of power. Even if the PSC decides to apply the measures envisaged in the Lome Declaration by imposing suspension, it would still require, as envisaged in the Declaration, to institute a process to facilitate negotiations towards transfer of power to a civilian-led authority paving the way for restoration of constitutional order in Sudan. Thus, apart from reiterating the statement of the AUC Chairperson of the Commission condemning the violence against unarmed protesters and demanding independent investigation, the PSC may, in terms of resumption of negotiations, additionally consider to affirm the continued validity of the agreements reached thus far and request the AUC Chair to designate a highrepresentative that will, working with the UN Special Envoy, facilitate the resumption of negotiations for the establishment of a civilianled transitional authority.


PSC Session on the Situation in Sudan

Sudan

Date | 30 April, 2019

Tomorrow (30 April) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene a session on the follow up to the 840th meeting on the situation in Sudan. The session will be held in Tunis, Tunisia. It is to be recalled that the communiqué of the 840th session of the PSC requested the ‘Chairperson of the Commission to report to Council by 30th April 2019, on the evolution of the situation and the implementation of the present Communiqué’. It is expected that the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, will present this report. Sudan’s representative and that of IGAD are also expected to make statements.

In its communiqué that rejected the seizure of power by the military as unconstitutional and contrary to established AU norms, the PSC demanded the army to cede authority in favor of such civilian-led authority within 15 days from the date of adoption of the decision. In the language of the communiqué, in the event of the non-transfer of authority to a transitional civilian-led authority at the end of the set time, the provisions of Article 7 (g) of the PSC Protocol involving the suspension of Sudan from the AU would apply. The communiqué stipulated that this application of the measures under Article 7(g) suspension will be automatic.

In his report, Mahamat is expected to update the PSC on what steps he has taken to follow up on the implementation of the communiqué. His report is also expected to update the PSC on the situation in Sudan in general and the state of the transition in particular including most notably the process towards the establishment of a civilian-led transitional authority.

On 16 April Mahamat received a delegation of the Transitional Military Council (TMC). In a statement issued following the meeting, recalling the communiqué adopted by the PSC at its meeting held on 15 April and his own earlier communiqué, he reiterated the AU’s commitment to work with all the Sudanese stakeholders towards a consensual and inclusive transition that meets the aspirations of the people and ensures the stability of the country. Following the meeting, he issued a statement. As a follow up to the PSC communiqué of 15 April, the AUC Chair also undertook a visit to Sudan on 21 April. After the consultations he held with various stakeholders, he issued a statement urging ‘all concerned stakeholders to agree on earnest on a civilian-led and consensual transition’. In the statement, he also expressed his hope ‘to a successful outcome of their ongoing consultations, as he prepares his report to the Peace and Security Council on the evolution of the situation in Sudan, to be submitted by the end of this month, as per the Council’s communiqué of 15 April 2019.’

It is expected that Mahamat’s report would inform the PSC on the views and expectations of the various stakeholders with whom he held consultations during his visit. With respect to the process for the establishment of the civilian-led transitional authority required by the AU norm banning unconstitutional changes of government as provided for in Article 30 of the Constitutive Act and Article 7 of the PSC Protocol, Mahamat is also expected to update the PSC on the state of the negotiations for transferring authority from the army to a civilian-led authority. PSC member states would also be interested to hear Mahamat’s assessment of the challenges and the prospects for the establishment of a civilian-led authority.

Also to feature in Mahamat’s report to the PSC is the consultative summit on the situation in Sudan that was held in Cairo, Egypt. On 23 April, the AU Assembly Chairperson, President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, convened a consultative summit of the regional partners of Sudan, which brought together the neighbors of Sudan and the members of the AU Troika, namely Rwanda (outgoing Chair of the AU) and South Africa (the designated chair of the AU for 2020). The consultative meeting having no decision-making power, it did not take a decision, it however made a key recommendation pertaining to the 15 April decision of the PSC. Following the briefing from the representative of the Sudan and AUC Chair following his visit of 21 April, the Consultative meeting recommended that the PSC extends the timeline provided for the Sudanese authorities by three month.

While negotiations between the coalition of protesters and opposition forces, under the umbrella of the Freedom and Change Forces, and the TMC have been underway with intermittent suspension by the Freedom and Change Forces, it has been reported that the negotiations held on 27 April culminated in agreement for joint establishment of a transitional authority. However, major differences have emerged over the composition and form of the transitional authority and the duration of the transitional period. In terms of the composition of the transitional authority to be established consensually, the Freedom and Change Forces demand an authority whose majority members would be composed of civilians while the military sought to have dominant role with limited civilian participation.

In the light of the clear terms of the AU norm banning unconstitutional changes of government, it is expected that the PSC would ensure that this norm and its established practice of upholding this norm are unequivocally respected. Also given the declared unconstitutionality of the military’s seizure of
power and AU’s democratic norms demand to limit the role of the army in politics as the PSC made clear in its intervention in the army’s seizure of power in Burkina Faso in November 2014. One of the issues for Mahamat to advice and for the PSC to clarify is how to define the scope of the role of the military and limit its influence on transitional politics in Sudan as part of the process of the restoration of constitutional order.

As to the duration of the transitional period, the military council proposes two years while the Freedom and Change Forces called for a four years transitional period. The negotiating parties have also to agree on the role or scope of authority of the transitional authority being negotiated. Another, perhaps more important aspect of the issue for PSC decision relates to the proposed extension of the 15 days timeline. According to the terms of the PSC communiqué quoted above, if, at the expiry of the 15 days period, the TMC fails to transfer power to a civilian-led transitional authority, the PSC would apply provisions of Article 7(g) of the PSC Protocol particularly the suspension of Sudan from the AU. This would be automatic. Given
the recommendations of the Consultative Summit held in Cairo to extend the timeline for a period of three months, it is expected that Mahamat would propose extension.

In making a determination on the recommendation of the Consultative Summit for extension of the timeline, there are few issues for the PSC to consider. The first is in the light of the progress being made for the formation of a consensual transitional authority whether it is necessary for the PSC to extend the timeline for as long as the three month period that the Consultative Summit proposed. There is a risk that such prolongation may create conditions that militate against civilian-led transition and lead instead to consolidation by the military of its transitional authority. The other issue is the parameters that the PSC may need to set, when extending the timeline, in terms of the form that the civilian-led transitional authority should take to meet ‘the aspirations of the people of Sudan, as well as to the relevant AU instruments’, in the words of its 15 April communiqué. Finally, the PSC may also need to consider the tasking of the AU High level Panel on Sudan, otherwise known as the Mbeki Panel, or a new envoy of the AUC Chair, to ensure that the negotiations between the Sudanese parties produce the expected outcome before the end of the extended period and help them bridge their differences on such other issues as the duration of the transitional period and the scope of authority/mandate of the transitional authority.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué that would outline the period of extension and the conditions to be met for effecting transfer of authority to a civilian-led authority consistent with the applicable norms of the AU.


Briefing session on the situation in Sudan

Sudan

Date | 15 April, 2019

Tomorrow (15 April) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene on an emergency meeting on the situation unfolding in Sudan. It is expected that the AU Peace and Security Department, will brief the PSC. Sudan’s Ambassador and representative of IGAD are also expected to make statements. It is anticipated that the session will focus on the conditions of the ouster of long time President of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir the precious day on 11 April and the nature of the transition that the army leadership announced after removing Bashir.

The move of the Sudanese army ousting Bashir came after months of peaceful popular protests that covered many parts of Sudan. The protests began on 19 December in the northern town of Atbara after a major spike in the price of bread. As the protests spread to many other parts of Sudan including notably the capital Khartoum, the demand of the protesters shifted into broader political change with a particular focus on the departure of Bashir from power.

The army ousted Bashir after the protesters mobilized major demonstrations running for a number of days since April 6 outside of the military headquarters in Khartoum. When announcing the removal of Bashir, the First Vice President and Minister of Defence Awad Ibn Auf declared the suspension of the Constitution, the dissolution of the National Assembly, the formation of a military-led transitional government which will rule for two years, and the arrest of President Omar al Bashir, as well as the imposition of a state of emergency for three months. Since then the military Awad IbnAuf himself resigned and Lt-General Abdel Fattah Burhan assumed the region of power. Despite reconciliatory tone of the new head of the Military Council, protesters continue to demand the establishment of a civilian administration.

These turn of events, particularly the abrogation of transitional government power by the military and the suspension of the Constitution, raised the question of the application of the AU norm on unconstitutional changes of government. Unsurprisingly, the AU Commission Chairperson issued a press
statement on the situation. In the statement the Chairperson expressed ‘the African Union conviction that the military take-over is not the appropriate response to the challenges facing Sudan and the aspirations of its people.’ While appealing to all stakeholders to engage in an inclusive dialogue to create the conditions that will make it possible to meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people to democracy, good governance and well-being and restore constitutional order as soon as possible, the Chairperson reiterated the strong condemnation, under the Lome Declaration of 2000 and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (African Democracy
Charter), ‘of any unconstitutional change of Government and commit member states to the respect of the rule of law, democratic principles and human rights.’

Tomorrow’s session was also anticipated in the Chairperson’s statement. It is expected that the PSC will make a determination on whether the transition in Sudan constitutes a military coup
warranting the application of the measures envisaged under the Lome Declaration and the African Democracy Charter. The military takeover of transitional authority under a Military Council, the suspension of the
constitution and the declaration of state of emergency are all the constituent elements of a military coup. As such, it is expected that the PSC will designate the situation in Sudan as an unconstitutional change of government. What is not clear is whether the PSC will proceed to institute the consequences that flow from the occurrence in a member state of an unconstitutional change of government. While the reading of the Lome Declaration and other relevant instruments of the AU including the AU Constitutive Act and the dominant practice of the AU suggests that the application of suspension of the country in which unconstitutional change happened to be automatic, there have been instances in which the PSC opted for holding back the automatic application of the legal consequences. This is done to use the threat of sanction as leverage for pushing democratic change and deploy an incremental application of sanctions.

It may be recalled that in a similar situation in Burkina Faso in 2014 the PSC opted for the suspension of the automatic application of the consequences of the occurrence of a military
seizure of power. After widespread protests against the change of constitutional term limit he was pushing through Parliament for seeking a third term, Burkina Faso’s then President Blaise Compaore fled out of the country at the end of October 2014. On his departure, the army took over the reign of power. The AU through the statement of the Chairperson of the AU commission announced its rejection of unconstitutional changes. At its meeting on 3 November 2014, the PSC informed the army that the seizure by the army of power was contrary to the AU norm on unconstitutional changes. But as opposed to the usual practice of suspending Burkina Faso immediately, the PSC, on the advise of the then Chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, used
the threat of suspension as a leverage for quick transfer of power by the military to a transitional civilian authority. Accordingly, the PSC gave Burkina Faso’s army a period of two weeks for handing over power to such civilian authority.

From the perspective of applying the AU norm banning unconstitutional change of government to support peaceful transition in Sudan, this approach used in Burkina Faso could as well be
the option that the PSC could opt for. The result of this could be the rejection and condemnation of the seizure of power by the army as unconstitutional and the provision of a timeline for the army to negotiate with various stakeholders on the streets protesting for handing over power to an inclusive civilian transitional authority.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. In accordance with Lome Declaration of 2000 and the Addis Ababa Democracy Charter, it is expected to condemn the military seizure of power and urge the transfer of power to a civilian transitional administration, failing which the PSC would take the relevant measures including suspension of Sudan from the AU and targeted sanctions as applicable. As in Burkina Faso, the PSC could request the AU High Level Panel to support the Sudanese actors in handing over power to an inclusive civilian authority and elaborate a road map for addressing outstanding issues of the various peace processes in Sudan and for instituting reforms for achieving democratic change.


Briefing session on the situation in Sudan

Sudan

Date | 14 April, 2019

Tomorrow (15 April) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene on an emergency meeting on the situation unfolding in Sudan.

It is expected that the AU Peace and Security Department, will brief the PSC. Sudan’s Ambassador and representative of IGAD are also expected to make statements. It is anticipated that the session will focus on the conditions of the ouster of long time President of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir the precious day on 11 April and the nature of the transition that the army leadership announced after removing Bashir.

The move of the Sudanese army ousting Bashir came after months of peaceful popular protests that covered many parts of Sudan. The protests began on 19 December in the northern town of Atbara after a major spike in the price of bread. As the protests spread to many other parts of Sudan including notably the capital Khartoum, the demand of the protesters shifted into broader political change with a particular focus on the departure of Bashir from power.

The army ousted Bashir after the protesters mobilized major demonstrations running for a number of days since April 6 outside of the military headquarters in Khartoum. When announcing the removal of Bashir, the First Vice President and Minister of Defence Awad Ibn Auf declared the suspension of the Constitution, the dissolution of the National Assembly, the formation of a military-led transitional government which will rule for two years, and the arrest of President Omar al Bashir, as well as the imposition of a state of emergency for three months. Since then the military Awad IbnAuf himself resigned and Lt-General Abdel Fattah Burhan assumed the region of power. Despite reconciliatory tone of the new head of the Military Council, protesters continue to demand the establishment of a civilian administration.

These turn of events, particularly the abrogation of transitional government power by the military and the suspension of the Constitution, raised the question of the application of the AU norm on unconstitutional changes of government. Unsurprisingly, the AU Commission Chairperson issued a press statement on the situation. In the statement the Chairperson expressed ‘the African Union conviction that the military take-over is not the appropriate response to the challenges facing Sudan and the aspirations of its people.’ While appealing to all stakeholders to engage in an inclusive dialogue to create the conditions that will make it possible to meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people to democracy, good governance and well-being and restore constitutional order as soon as possible, the Chairperson reiterated the strong condemnation, under the Lome Declaration of 2000 and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (African Democracy Charter), ‘of any unconstitutional change of Government and commit member states to the respect of the rule of law, democratic principles and human rights.’

Tomorrow’s session was also anticipated in the Chairperson’s statement. It is expected that the PSC will make a determination on whether the transition in Sudan constitutes a military coup warranting the application of the measures envisaged under the Lome Declaration and the African Democracy Charter. The military takeover of transitional authority under a Military Council, the suspension of the constitution and the declaration of state of emergency are all the constituent elements of a military coup. As such, it is expected that the PSC will designate the situation in Sudan as an unconstitutional change of government.

What is not clear is whether the PSC will proceed to institute the consequences that flow from the occurrence in a member state of an unconstitutional change of government. While the reading of the Lome Declaration and other relevant instruments of the AU including the AU Constitutive Act and the dominant practice of the AU suggests that the application of suspension of the country in which unconstitutional change happened to be automatic, there have been instances in which the PSC opted for holding back the automatic application of the legal consequences. This is done to use the threat of sanction as leverage for pushing democratic change and deploy an incremental application of sanctions.

It may be recalled that in a similar situation in Burkina Faso in 2014 the PSC opted for the suspension of the automatic application of the consequences of the occurrence of a military seizure of power. After widespread protests against the change of constitutional term limit he was pushing through Parliament for seeking a third term, Burkina Faso’s then President Blaise Compaore fled out of the country at the end of October 2014. On his departure, the army took over the reign of power. The AU through the statement of the Chairperson of the AU commission announced its rejection of unconstitutional changes. At its meeting on 3 November 2014, the PSC informed the army that the seizure by the army of power was contrary to the AU norm on unconstitutional changes. But as opposed to the usual practice of suspending Burkina Faso immediately, the PSC, on the advise of the then Chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, used the threat of suspension as a leverage for quick transfer of power by the military to a transitional civilian authority. Accordingly, the PSC gave Burkina Faso’s army a period of two weeks for handing over power to such civilian authority.

From the perspective of applying the AU norm banning unconstitutional change of government to support peaceful transition in Sudan, this approach used in Burkina Faso could as well be the option that the PSC could opt for. The result of this could be the rejection and condemnation of the seizure of power by the army as unconstitutional and the provision of a timeline for the army to negotiate with various stakeholders on the streets protesting for handing over power to an inclusive civilian transitional authority.
The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. In accordance with Lome Declaration of 2000 and the Addis Ababa Democracy Charter, it is expected to condemn the military seizure of power and urge the transfer of power to a civilian transitional administration, failing which the PSC would take the relevant measures including suspension of Sudan from the AU and targeted sanctions as applicable. As in Burkina Faso, the PSC could request the AU High Level Panel to support the Sudanese actors in handing over power to an inclusive civilian authority and elaborate a road map for addressing outstanding issues of the various peace processes in Sudan and for instituting reforms for achieving democratic change.


Briefing on Darfur and UNAMID

Sudan

Date | 26 February, 2019

Tomorrow (26 February) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold its first briefing of the year on the situation in Darfur and on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operations in Darfur (UNAMID). The Joint Special Representative for Darfur and Head of UNAMID Jeremiah Mamabolo is scheduled to brief the PSC. Ademore Kambudzi, Acting Head of the Peace and Security Department is also expected to deliver a statement on behalf of Smail Chergui, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security. The PSC also expects to hear update statement from the Government of Sudan. The agenda for the session anticipates the participation of the UN office to the AU (UNOAU) and representatives of the African members (A3) of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

In terms of the situation in Darfur, Mamabolo is expected to update the PSC on the developments in the security situation in Darfur since the PSC’s last meeting of 19 September 2018. Like the October 2018 report of the Secretary-General, his latest report covering 4 October 2018 to 3 January, noted that the security situation in Darfur remains relatively stable except for intermittent clashes between government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid in the Jebel Marra area. It also indicates improvements noting in particular the decline in inter-communal violence and human rights violations, enabling some internally displaced persons to return to their place of origin.

It is to be recalled that one area of concern highlighted in the PSC field visit to Darfur and the communiqué on its field mission report has been the treatment of internally displaced persons and the challenges surrounding clashes over land including for IDPs seeking to return to their place of origin.

In this regard, its communiqué of the 773rd meeting highlighted the ‘need to urgently and equitably address the land tenure issues as it relates to the returnees’. The Secretary-General’s latest report also observed that the underlying causes of the conflict remain unaddressed. This is one area on which the briefing from Mamabolo is expected to provide some update to the PSC.

It is to be recalled that the various communiqués of the PSC (communiqués of its 778th and 794th sessions) and notably its communiqué of the 773rd session urged ‘the Government of Sudan to intensify efforts towards addressing the root causes of conflict in Darfur, including the return of the IDPs.’ PSC members may wish to learn about the government’s specific plans and concrete measures in these respects.

Members of the PSC would wish to follow up on the effort for achieving political settlement, particularly with groups that are not signatories to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) as highlighted in its 794th session. In this respect, some progress has been observed. The African Union High-level Implementation Panel on Sudan and South Sudan (AUHIP) convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 22-23 November 2018 with the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Gibril Ibrahim faction of the Justice and Equality
Movement (JEM-Gibril), focusing on achieving a pre-negotiation framework that would facilitate the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement and the resumption of political negotiations. On 6 December 2018, at a meeting in Berlin, Germany the government of Sudan and the SLA-MM and JEMGibril signed a pre-negotiation agreement, providing for the resumption of negotiations within the framework of the DDPD, under the auspices of the AUHIP.

Despite this slow progress and the renewal by these groups of their cessation of hostilities until February, fighting has not completely stopped. With respect to UNAMID, developments relating to
the benchmarks in the exit process of UNAMID are of particular interest. It is to be recalled that its communiqué of the 778th session ‘while welcoming the proposal by the Special Report of the Secretary General and the AU Commission Chairperson that the UNAMID would exit on 30 June 2020 and its liquidation be completed by December 2020,’ the PSC noted that consideration should be given to ‘[e]nsuring a gradual drawdown that would allow the Mission’s exit to be guided by the political and security situation on the ground so as not to create a security vacuum and expose civilian populations’.

As expected to be highlighted in Mamabolo’s briefing, it is of interest for the PSC that the October 2018 report of the Secretary General contained proposed ‘benchmarks and indicators of achievement’ for the eventual exit of UNAMID with a view towards this exit taking place in 2020, ‘provided that there is no significant change in the security situation in Darfur and key indicators are fulfilled’. Also of significance for the PSC to note is the UNSC presidential statement of Cote d’Ivoire of 10 December that requested the Secretary-General, and invited the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, to provide detailed reporting on the progress made towards achieving the benchmarks and indicators attaching ‘particular priority to progress against the benchmarks and indicators focused on protection of civilians, particularly relating to internally displaced persons and returning refugees, human rights, rule of law, the humanitarian situation, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the regular 90-day reports’.

A key issue that may be raised during the briefing is the challenge around resource and financial mobilization to support the implementation of the transition to plan. The UNSC presidential statement makes reference to the need for resources not only to the successful attainment of the benchmarks and indicators but also to the long-term transition to peacebuilding and development.

In line with the timetable adopted by the UNSC, the UNAMID troops have been reduced from 8,735 to 5,470 and the number of police officers has also been lowered from 800 to 760 by the end of December 2018. The upcoming joint UN and AU assessment mission in March will review the reconfiguration of UNAMID in light of the set benchmarks and present report both to the PSC and UNSC.

Beyond troop reduction, the transition plan includes the transfer of various locations to the control of the Government of Sudan. In a press statement that UNAMID issued on 20 December 2018, it reported that it concluded the closure and handing over of 10 team sites to the Government of Sudan. In the
statement UNAMID urged the Government of Sudan to use the facilities for non-military civilian purposes, including to ‘contribute towards institutions such as universities, hospitals and schools, that meet critical needs of health and education, while benefiting large parts of communities.’

It is of interest for the PSC to inquire from Mamabolo if there are aspects of the situation in Darfur and UNAMID’s exit processes that, in the assessment of UNAMID, could be affected by these ongoing political instability in Sudan, most notably the most recent declaration of state of emergency
and the removal of state governors. The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. On the situation in Darfur, the PSC could reiterate its earlier concerns on the challenges facing IDPs and returnees and the need for addressing the underlying conflict drivers in Darfur such as those leading to inter-communal clashes, including land issues and resource distribution. The communiqué could also welcome the progress towards inclusive political settlement and the need for not losing momentum. With respect to UNAMID’s exit process, the communiqué could take note of the benchmarks and indicators of progress contained in the UN Secretary-General and the UNSC’s Presidential statement calling for periodic reports using the benchmarks and indicators for assessing progress, which is in line with the PSC’s communiqué of the 778th session. The PSC may also wish to request that UNAMID monitors and provides feedback on the impact of the overall situation in Sudan on Darfur and the mission.