Update briefing on the situation in Sudan

Update briefing on the situation in Sudan

Date | 2 November 2022

Tomorrow (2 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene its 1117th session to receive update briefing on the situation in Sudan.

Permanent Representative of Namibia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of November, Emilia Ndinealo Mkusa, is expected to make opening remarks. AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to deliver statements while the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission to the Sudan, Mohamed Belaiche, will brief the Council during the closed segment of the session. The representative of the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) may also deliver statements as the relevant regional mechanism.

PSC has considered the situation in Sudan only in four instances (1041st, 1050th, 1060th, and 1076th sessions) since the 25 October 2021 military coup despite its decision, at its 1041st meeting, to receive monthly update on the evolution of the situation in Sudan. Sudan gave the AU and its PSC cold shoulder after the latter suspended Sudan on 26 October last year, which, to an extent, seems to have constrained PSC’s active engagement in resolving the political crisis in the country. It is to be recalled that PSC’s planned field mission to Sudan, which was slated for February, could not take place as Sudan’s military authorities were reluctant to receive the delegation.

25 October marked first anniversary of the coup, which derailed the civilian-led transition process and plunged the country into a protracted political instability. Tens of thousands of protesters marched on the anniversary of the coup, demanding a return to civilian rule. The 25 October 2021 coup was staged just a few months before the military’s handover of the chairship of the Sovereign Council—a body composed of the army and civilians with the task of overseeing the transition—to the civilian leadership as agreed in the 2019 Constitutional Declaration. It apparently aimed at pre-emptively averting both the risk of security sector reform and the concomitant potential loss of the military’s role and influence in the economy & politics of the country and the risk of accountability for alleged human right violations – past and present. The military authorities led by al-Burhan justified the 25 October seizure of power as a necessary step to put the transition back on track and improve the worsening conditions of the country.

One year after the coup, the socio-economic, political, security and humanitarian situations of the country indicate a downward spiral. In his 2 September 2022 report to the UN Security Council, UN Secretary-General noted that ‘the lack of political agreement and of a fully functional Government contributed to insecurity in various parts of the country, as well as to the deterioration of the economic and humanitarian situation.’ Intercommunal conflicts and armed banditry in West, North and South Darfur, West Kordofan, Kassala, Blue Nile States have spurred with the latest intercommunal violence in Blue Nile State reportedly killing over 220 people. International partners and financial institutions have suspended their financial assistance until the restoration of civilian transition. The ongoing political impasse and rising insecurity coupled with global dynamics as marked by food price spike, as well as the suspension of financial assistance by international partners and financial institutions on account of the Coup have sent Sudan’s economy into free fall. The year-on-year inflation in 2022 is estimated to remain high at 245.1 per cent, according to UN Secretary-General’s 2 September report. The socio-economic condition is further compounded by natural disasters, including flash floods.

On the political front, the military coup has also continued to face stiff resistance from the streets despite a heavy crackdown that reportedly killed hundreds of protesters since 25 October 2021. Despite some hopes in recent times, breaking the political deadlock on some of the sticky points on how to restore a civilian transition remains as elusive as before. In a televised speech on 4 July 2022, al-Burhan announced army’s withdrawal from the political dialogue facilitated by the UN-AU-IGAD trilateral mechanism to ‘allow space for political and revolutionary forces to form a government of national competencies’ to lead the transition period. He further pledged to dissolve the Sovereign Council, following the formation of an interim government, and establish a Supreme Council of Armed Forces composed of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, which will be responsible for security and defence tasks and ‘related responsibilities’, in consultation with the government. This is seen as an attempt to keep the security forces from required reforms and there is still lack of clarity and disagreement among different actors over the exact mandate & composition of the envisaged Council as well as the need for civilian oversight.

Meanwhile, military’s announcement of withdrawal from the political negotiation has placed the ball in the court of the civilian actors to reach on a consensus for an interim government and the way forward to the transition. Currently, efforts are underway to forge unity, the drafting of constitutional declarations by the Sudan Bar Association (SBA) being an encouraging step in this regard. In August, the SBA unveiled a final draft of a new transitional constitution, which saw the participation of wide range of stakeholders from the Forces for Freedom and Change-Central Council (FFC-CC), resistance committees, the Communist Party of Sudan, as well as rebel groups. The draft constitution is hoped to replace the August 2019 constitutional document if it succeeds in garnering support from majority of Sudanese stakeholders. Around mid-October, the FFC, which was part of the 2019 power-share deal and continued to remain an important political actor, rolled out its political vision for the restoration of the transitional civilian government based on the SBA’s draft constitution. The vision reportedly proposes to, among others, form a technocrat cabinet, amend the Juba Peace Agreement, and a Security and Defence Council under the chair of a civilian Prime Minister. However, nature of the cabinet (technocratic versus party cabinet), the role of the military in the transition, status of the Juba Peace Agreement and duration of the transition remain contested issues.

In the short term, appointing an agreed Prime Minister and establishing an interim civilian government seem priority in the move towards the restoration of a civilian transition. However, getting the country on a path toward sustainable peace and democracy requires reckoning with longstanding issues that have become divisive and continued to shape the political state. This would necessitate reforms in the governance architecture of the state under a new constitution, civil-military relationship including security sector reform, transitional justice and accountability and reforms in the economic sector.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Among others, Council may express its concern over the growing insecurity and deterioration of socio-economic and humanitarian conditions of Sudan amid the ongoing political deadlock. It may call on Sudan authorities to urgently address sources of insecurity and take appropriate measures to ensure peace and stability of conflict hotspots, including the full implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement. It may also highlight the importance of breaking ongoing political deadlock and bring the transition back on track to resolve multidimensional challenges facing Sudan. Council may express concern over the slow pace of progress towards the restoration of a civilian transition for whose disruption the military coup is to blame. Council may urge civilian actors to expeditiously agree on the appointment of a Prime Minster and establishment of a civilian interim government and urge the de facto military authorities to commit to the principles on civilian oversight on the defence and security forces and civilian leadership over defence and security decision-making. Council may commend the UN-AU-IGAD tripartite mechanism for its effort to facilitate the Sudanese-led and Sudanese-owned consultations among the various actors. Council may encourage these actors to engage in a political dialogue to build consensus on the outstanding issues to restore the civilian transition, including the transitional bodies, role of military in the transition, and duration of the transition. Regarding the status of the Juba Peace Agreement, Council may welcome the recent training of the first batch of nearly 2000 troops from the signatory armed groups to the peace agreement and may further call on Sudanese authorities to expedite the training and integration of the remaining forces of the armed groups. Against the background of the violent responses of the military authorities toward peaceful protests, Council may call on the authorities to respect the right to peaceful assembly and ensure the non-use of disproportionate force against peaceful protests and to reiterate its previous call on Sudanese authorities to undertake a credible investigation into the killings of protesters and other violations since 25 October coup and held perpetrators accountable.


Briefing on the situation in Abyei

Briefing on the situation in Abyei

Date | 29 September 2022

Tomorrow (29 September) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene a briefing session on the situation in Abyei.

Following the opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Amma Adomaa Twum-Amoah, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Banole Adeoye or his representative will deliver a statement. The Chairperson of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), former South African President Thabo Mbeki is expected to provide update briefing to the PSC. The representative of South Sudan, as a country concerned, is also expected to make a statement. It remains unclear if Sudan would be allowed to deliver a statement considering that it is suspended from participation in AU activities. This is important more so because Sudan is also Chair of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and delivered a statement during the last PSC session on Abyei in this capacity. Others expected to address the PSC include the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Hannah Teteh and the new United Nations (UN) Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) Force Commander, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr.

The last time the PSC considered this issue was at its 966th session in November 2020. The communique adopted following this meeting expressed concern over the lack of progress in the discussion on the final status of Abyei. AUPSC appealed to the Governments of the South Sudan and Sudan to agree on the arrangements that can expedite the resolution of this longstanding issue. It also appealed to the two countries to accelerate the implementation of their Agreement on Temporary Security and Administrative Arrangements for the Abyei Area, signed on 20 June 2011, particularly the finalization of the establishment of the Abyei Area Administration, the Abyei Area Council, and the Abyei Police Service, in order to facilitate the provision of essential services to the Abyei population.

Since then, there has not been any movement on all these issues as both Sudan and South Sudan have been preoccupied by their own internal challenges. The lack of progress seems to have increased frustration among the residents of the area who recently staged a public demonstration to demand autonomy. This is said to be a proposal supported by Francis Deng, a prominent South Sudanese politician and diplomat from Abyei who served as his country’s first Ambassador to the UN after its independence in 2011. However, the Chief Administrator of Abyei and some others apparently oppose the proposal which they said entertains the idea of a joint interim arrangement.

Following this development, news about the resumption of talks between Sudan and South Sudan on the final status of Abyei have emerged. Sudan Tribune quoted South Sudan’s presidential adviser on security affairs as having said that President Salva Kiir and the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan started talks on the status of Abyei. But the details about these talks remain sketchy at this stage. Over the past decade and more, the AUHIP under the chairmanship of former South African President Thabo Mbeki has been engaged in trying to assist Sudan and South Sudan to find a lasting solution to the issue of Abyei. It is to be recalled that President Mbeki briefed the PSC during its last session at the 966th meeting and remains to be the main AU mechanism dedicated to, among others, the situation in Abyei.

On the security front, reports indicate that this year saw a rise in intercommunal violence in Abyei. This led to the loss of lives and displacement of thousands of people. Of particular concern has been the outbreak of violence between the Ngok Dinka and Twic Dinka communities in the Agok area in February and March, and its spillover towards Abyei town. The situation is said to have been relatively calm in recent months following a traditional leaders peace conference facilitated by UNISFA. The conference took place in Entebbe, Uganda, in May 2022 and it concluded with the Dinka and Misseriya traditional leaders signing a peace accord in support of efforts to find lasting peace for the Abyei area.

Apart from UNISFA, the other mechanisms that play important role for stability in Abyei include the Political and Security Mechanism and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM). However, there is not much change in respect to the engagement of these mechanisms.

There have also been major changes with respect to UNISFA since the last PSC meeting. The border tension between Sudan and Ethiopia affected UNISFA when Khartoum openly called for the withdrawal of Ethiopian peacekeepers. Ethiopia was the sole troop contributing country to UNISFA which has been deployed in the area since 2011. The Ethiopian peacekeepers have now left the mission and they have since been replaced by other peacekeepers from Ghana, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.  On 15 March 2022, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr of Nigeria took over from Ethiopia’s Major General Kefyalew Amde Tessema, as the new Force Commander and acting head of UNISFA, to lead the recently reconfigured multinational peacekeeping mission.

UNISFA’s mandate is set to expire on 15 November 2022 and the Security Council is expected to renew it possibly for another six months. Ahead of the mandate renewal negotiation, the Security Council will meet on 28 October 2022 to discuss the situation in Abyei based on the latest report of the Secretary-General on UNISFA which is due by 15 October 2022. Tomorrow’s PSC meeting would be very timely and relevant in light of the upcoming meeting and negotiation in New York. Its outcome will likely feed into the discussion at the Security Council and help guide the African members in their participation on the mandate renewal negotiation. The UN mission proves to be critical for promoting stability and law and order as well as supporting efforts for reconciliation and determination of the final status of the area. Yet, its role is impacted by the level of cooperation of Sudan and South Sudan and the scope and nature of its mandate. Apart from the issues of concern from the communique of the 996th session that remain unresolved, the PSC may also address itself to these relevant issues relating to the mandate and functioning of UNISFA.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The PSC may express concern over and condemn incidents of intercommunal conflicts including killings, shootings, cattle-rustling, violence against women, including rape and migration-related violence witnessed in Abyei since its last session while calling for enhancement of efforts for maintaining peace among various communities. The PSC may also call for the enhancement by the AU through the AUHIP, of the mediation efforts including through possible support to the parties in resuming the meetings of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee. The PSC may also welcome the reconfiguration of UNISFA and commend the support that the stakeholders and the two countries concerned along with troop contributing countries gave in this respect and urge them to continue their support for finalizing this process. The PSC may reiterate its earlier call for implementation of the outstanding determination of the status of Abyei which is the underlying cause for the various insecurities, including by appealing to the Governments of the South Sudan and Sudan to agree on the arrangements that can expedite resolving the status of Abyei and request the Chairperson of the Commission, working with the AUHIP, to engage the two Heads of State to resolve the status of Abyei on the basis of the AUHIP proposal of 21 September 2012. It may also reiterate the need for implementation of demarcation of the Safe demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) to allow the JBVMM to effectively discharge its mandate.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.