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UNITAMS head: ‘Restoring lost trust a major challenge in Sudan’

December 11 - 2021 NEW YORK
Volker Perthes, Special Representative for Sudan and Head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), briefs UN Security Council members in New York yesterday (Photo: UN TV)
Volker Perthes, Special Representative for Sudan and Head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), briefs UN Security Council members in New York yesterday (Photo: UN TV)

Restoring deepening mistrust between Sudan’s military and civilian components, and within the civilian component itself, will be a challenge as the country moves forward following the military coup d’état on October 25, and the signing of the political agreement between Gen El Burhan and PM Abdullah Hamdok on November 21, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Sudan (SRSG) and head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission In Sudan (UNITAMS), Volker Perthes, told the UN Security Council (UNSC) in a briefing in New York on Friday.

“The military takeover has exposed and deepened the mistrust between the military and civilian components and within the civilian component itself. And the 21 November Agreement has not led to a rebuilding of lost trust,” Perthes told the UNSC.

The agreement faces “significant opposition” from key stakeholders, including within the Forces of Freedom and Change, a civilian coalition, many of whom feel betrayed by the coup and now reject any dealings with the military.

“Forthcoming decisions on government formation, high-level appointments, and the establishment of transitional institutions, will test the will and ability of the stakeholders to seek a common way out of the crisis,” he added.

Volker Perthes briefs the UNSC (Video: UN TV)

Rebuild confidence

The UN envoy warned of the potential for further fragmentation. The agreement stipulates the formulation of a political declaration, which would likely entail constitutional amendments, and proposes the formation of a “technocratic cabinet”.

Perthes underlined the UN’s readiness to facilitate an inclusive dialogue, both to address unresolved issues for the transitional period and to deal with broader questions as part of the constitutional reform process.

‘Sudanese men and women’s unwavering commitment to realise civilian-led democratic governance can’t be overlooked. They sacrificed immensely to realise aspirations of freedom, peace, justice enshrined in civilian-led democratic state’

“Sudan’s military and political leaders will primarily have to rebuild trust with their own domestic public, particularly with the young generation. Immediate confidence-building measures and a visible commitment to bring the country back on a democratic transition path will be key,” he said.

The Sudanese authorities will also need to take steps to regain financial, economic, and political support from the international community, he further stated.

He later told the Council that in the aftermath of the coup, donors paused development assistance to Sudan, which is having a significant impact on the people and putting recent achievements at risk.

Volker Perthes addresses a press conference after briefing the UNSC (Video: UN TV)

Measuring progress

Perthes outlined various indicators that can be used to measure progress in Sudan over the short to medium term, starting with releasing all political detainees, ceasing arbitrary arrests and guaranteeing the right to peaceful protest and assembly.  

Accountability for human rights violations in the wake of the coup will also be another area for action, he added, and could help to rebuild confidence.

The Prime Minister’s ability to freely form his technocratic cabinet, is another key indicator, as are lifting the state of emergency, and restoring freedom of the press.

However, restoration of political space will be the main indicator for a return to the path to democratic transition.

“This is particularly important in light of the professed goal by political and military leaders to hold free and fair elections possibly even earlier than originally planned. The authorities will need to ensure a conducive atmosphere for credible elections which the United Nations and other international actors can then support,” he said.

UN Security Council, 8924th meeting on Sudan (VIdeo: UNTV)

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