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UNITAMS Speaks, says Sudan on Political Impasse, Risks Sliding Into Deeper Instability

UNITAMS’s Full Statement on Consultations on a Political Process for Sudan: An inclusive intra-Sudanese process on the way forward for democracy and peace

In the wake of the 25 October coup, and despite notable efforts by a variety of Sudanese interlocutors, no agreement has been reached to end the political crisis in Sudan. The country is at a political impasse, and risks sliding into deeper instability that would squander the important gains made since the December Revolution. The increase of violence in Darfur already demonstrates the dangerous impact of the political crisis on the entire country.

The lack of trust and consensus on a way forward is taking a high toll on the Sudanese people. The grim death count that rises weekly is a constant reminder of what is at stake if this deadlock continues. The UN is clear that the continued, excessive use of force should immediately stop, be properly investigated, and those responsible be held accountable. Meanwhile, the social and economic impact of a protracted crisis will affect millions.

On 8 January, SRSG Volker Perthes announced (EN and AR here) consultations on a political process for Sudan. This initiative is based on UNITAMS’ good offices role as set out in Security Council Resolution 2579 (2021).

In the initial stage, UNITAMS will individually consult with a wide range of Sudanese stakeholders to seek their views on priority issues and their vision on the way forward. UNITAMS will seek to hear from all key stakeholders including government, political parties, armed movements, civil society, women’s groups, resistance committees, and other state and non-state actors. Prominent and meaningful contributions from women and youth will be critical in this process, as their role is key to any sustainable path forward.

Issues raised in these individual consultations will form the basis of an agenda for more structured discussions, in which all groups would be invited to share their views on areas of convergence and divergence that emerged during the initial consultations. The UN will not be imposing decisions on the substance – these decisions will be up to the Sudanese themselves.

Depending upon the progress made during these phases, and subject to the wishes of the parties, direct talks between the sides could be facilitated by the UN and/or other partners at the request of the parties, but with the key principle of Sudanese ownership.  Progress on the process will depend on the outcome of the initial consultations.

The UN does not have any position on the outcome of the talks. These initial consultations will guide our next steps. Any direct talks or future agreement will be based on agreement among Sudanese on the way forward.

Questions and Answers

What is the title of the talks?

Consultations on a Political Process for Sudan: An inclusive intra-Sudanese process on the way forward for democracy and peace

Where does the UN get the mandate to convene the talks?

The process is premised on UNITAMS’ good offices role as mandated by Security Council Resolution 2579 (2021), with the aim of facilitating a Sudanese-owned agreement on a way forward to address the current political crisis in Sudan and ensuring the development of the path of democratic transition.

What is the objective of the talks?

UNITAMS’ goal is to prepare the ground for a process capable of securing agreement among Sudan’s various political forces, civilian, and the military on the way forward for the democratic transition in Sudan.

Why now?

We are doing this now because Sudan is currently facing an impasse following the coup on 25 October. This political crisis impacts the stability of the entire country and beyond. The human rights situation is deteriorating in the context of mostly peaceful protests, unarmed people are being killed in the streets on a weekly basis, many men and women have been injured and some even sexually assaulted. The economy is taking a turn for the worse and all the achievements made under the last government are at serious risk, including aspects of international economic and financial assistance. The political crisis is impacting Darfur and other areas, with recent increases in violence and insecurity.

In confronting this crisis, Sudanese internal efforts have not been successful so far. As a member of the UN since independence in 1956, Sudan has the right to benefit from all the efforts and capacity that can be provided through the UN’s good offices in determining the way forward for the country.

What will be the format?

UNITAMS will individually consult with a range of Sudanese stakeholders, seeking their views on priority agenda issues and their vision on the way forward. The issues would then form the agenda for a more structured discussion in which all groups would be invited to share their views on areas of convergence and divergence that emerged during the initial consultations.  Depending upon developments and at the request of the parties, indirect or direct talks among the parties could also proceed in due course. 

Who will be participating in the talks?

UNITAMS has and will continue to consult widely with all national stakeholders in the development and implementation of the process. We strive to make the consultations as inclusive as possible and include civilian and military stakeholders as well as peace partners and civil society, including women groups, resistance committees and youth. The movements who have not yet completed the peace process will also be invited to participate. Political actors will also be part of this process.

How will these consultations address gross human rights violations, killing of protesters and sexual violence against protesters?

The UN will continue to call for the need to protect the essential and basic human rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.  The Sudanese have conveyed that they need to see accountability measures put in place to bring the preparators of crimes to justice. Of course, it is every Sudanese person’s right to express themselves peacefully and they should continue to exercise this right as they see fit. The security forces have the responsibility to exercise restraint and abide by their obligations under international law including ensuring the protection of peaceful protestors and avoiding the use of excessive force. The United Nations will continue to monitor and report on human rights violations as per our mandate and urge the security authorities to respect and uphold the right to peaceful assembly and expression.

What about those that have rejected any partnership or negotiation with the military? Why would they be willing to participate in such an effort?

The UN is an impartial actor and is not prejudging the outcome of the process. This is a Sudanese-led and Sudanese-owned process and the UN’s role is focused on facilitating Sudanese actors to reach agreement on a vision on the way forward. We cannot prejudge and predict the outcome of the process. However, the UN is committed to supporting a civilian-led government as the ultimate objective as per our mandate.

This process offers an opportunity to all stakeholders – from a variety of perspectives – to be part of defining and owning the solution to the current crisis and the future of the country. We trust that all key stakeholders will support and engage with this process.

The “street”, youth and resistance committees remain critical participants in this process and their views and contributions will greatly contribute to its success. We hope they see it as an opportunity to convey their views on a way forward and on the most pressing priorities facing Sudan and its transition.  We rely on their support and constructive engagement throughout this process.

What will be the outcome of these talks?

We do not want to predict an outcome. These initial consultations will guide our next steps. If the consultations lead to direct talks and those lead to an agreement it will reflect an agreement made among Sudanese actors on the way forward. The design of the future stages of the process, and the outcome if one is reached, will depend on what the Sudanese parties agree on.

Will these consultations be accessible to the public? How will the Sudanese public be informed on progress (or lack thereof) of these conversations? What information will UNITAMS be able to offer to the public and when?

Transparency and public engagement will be maintained at every stage. We will be posting agreed shared information on our platforms on a regular basis and the mission will hold regular press briefings to keep the public informed.

How is the UN initiative different from local initiatives that have been put forward?

The initiatives by various political actors have contributed to identifying substantive issues of contention and this is a critical contribution. However, no one initiative has so far been able to gain consensus among all actors.  We hope UN-facilitation efforts can support the parties to engage within the framework of a structured process that can assist them in reaching an agreement. END

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