The United Nations on Tuesday encouraged Sudan’s ruling authorities to reassure the population that dialogue is the best way to find a political solution to the country’s crisis.
According to Volker Perthes, the UN Secretary-Special General’s Representative for Sudan, the authorities must first release remaining detainees, end arbitrary arrests, and lift the state of emergency in order to get the country’s political transition back on track.
He noted that time is running out for a political solution that can map a road out of the current scenario, which is precarious and has a lot riding on it, including the country’s political, social, and economic stability.
Perthes was speaking during a Security Council meeting to discuss the latest developments in the African country, which came only days after police killed another innocent demonstrator. Since the military takeover on October 25, last year, 96 demonstrators have been slain.
“Those guilty for violence against protestors must be held accountable if the authorities wish to build trust,” Perthes added.
The lack of political agreement and a “completely credible” government, according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ latest report on Sudan, is impacting the security situation.
The Security Council meeting also came after armed conflicts between Arab and Masalit communities in Kereneik, West Darfur, in April, in which 150 people were murdered, others were displaced, and homes, a police station, a hospital, and a market were burned down, according to initial reports.
Perthes praised armed groups and regular troops for agreeing to join the Permanent Ceasefire Committee, which is chaired by the UN mission in the nation, as a cooperative organization to assist bring the situation under control, but warned that “the possibility of a new breakout of violence remains considerable.”
Although he praised the recent release of 86 detainees as a significant step toward restoring trust, he pointed out that at least 111 others remain detained in Khartoum, Port Sudan, and other locations.
While numerous political parties and coalitions create new alliances and put forward offers for talks with competitors, peaceful protests continue in Sudan amid popular demands for change and the restoration of the democratic transitional process.
“As Sudan faces more uncertainty, the shared feeling of urgency, combined with their desire for a brighter future, is motivating many parties to seek common ground and increase openness to discussion,” Perthes said Security Council members.
“Civilian-military dialogue is also becoming more widely recognized.”
He did note, however, that some key stakeholders continue to refuse invitations for face-to-face meetings with their counterparts, preferring instead to interact informally. As a result, the UN initiated indirect negotiations on May 12 to address a number of major concerns, including “the term and composition of key constitutional organs, the future relationship between the military and civilian components, and the method and criteria for selecting a prime minister.”
Perthes stated that once an agreement is achieved on such matters, a trilateral mechanism consisting of the United Nations, the African Union, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an eight-country African trade group, will gather for negotiations.
However, he warned against “‘spoilers,’ who do not desire a smooth transition to democracy or fail to reach an agreement through dialogue.” Such spoilers should not be allowed to damage the chances of finding a diplomatic solution to the situation.”
The envoy also emphasized that protecting civilians necessitates addressing the conflict’s core causes, such as decades of marginalization, land disputes, and the repatriation of internally displaced persons and refugees.
Sudan continues to suffer a high socioeconomic toll as a result of the political impasse, which is compounded by an economic crisis, poor harvests, and global supply shocks. Humanitarian needs are constantly expanding despite a 250 percent increase in food costs. According to the United Nations, the number of people battling acute hunger in the country is expected to increase to almost 18 million by September of this year.
Perthes bemoaned the fact that the Sudan 2022 humanitarian response plan has received only “an abysmal” 13 percent of funding, owing to international donors and financial institutions’ aversion to providing aid through state systems in the absence of a political agreement to restore constitutional legitimacy.
“While the Sudanese stakeholders bear primary responsibility for these developments, I am concerned about the long-term effects as we watch Sudan’s already frail state capacity and human capital erode,” he said.
He also cautioned that if a political solution in Sudan is not reached by the end of June, part of the vital support from the World Bank Group’s International Development Association 19 will be diverted to other countries.
“The ramifications of not finding a solution to the current impasse would be felt beyond Sudan’s borders and for a generation,” Perthes added.