Sudan: UN welcomes ‘courageous’ military-civilian pact towards democratic future

Senior UN officials have welcomed an agreement signed on Monday between military and civilian leaders in Sudan as a “courageous” step forward towards the establishment of democratic rule.

Signed in the capital Khartoum after months of negotiations following last year’s military coup which derailed the transition, the agreement aims to establish a new constitution.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said he hoped the signing would “pave the way for the return to a civilian-led transition in the country”, and called on all Sudanese “to work without delay on the next phase of the transition process to address outstanding issues with a view to achieving a lasting, inclusive political settlement.”

He added that the UN through the Trilateral Mechanism comprised of the UN mission in Sudan, the African Union (AU), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), “remains committed to supporting the process going forward.”

Time for action

“It is my hope that the principles in the document will be translated into action”, said UN Special Representative in Sudan, Volker Perthes. “The transitional authorities need to respect and protect the rights and freedoms of all Sudanese, regardless of their ethnic, religious or political background.”

The deal will initially create a new two-year civilian transitional authority led by a prime minister chosen by the coalition of civilian leaders signing up to the agreement. A second phase would see public consultations over transitional justice, military and security reform and the agreement two years ago over demilitarizing the restive Darfur region.

It comes after months of protest and violence, which has led to well over 100 demonstrators killed by security forces, and more than 8,000 sustaining “life-changing” injuries, according to UN human rights chief Volker Türk, briefing journalists in Sudan last month.

‘Important first step’: Türk
In a statement issued on Monday, Mr. Türk, also welcomed the new pact, calling it “an important first step”, calling for sustained international support during the next phase of transition.

Mr. Türk said that during his fact-finding mission where he met a wide spectrum of Sudanese, he said he had been touched by their vision for a future “anchored in human rights and justice”.

He described the signing of the framework agreement as a huge opportunity to ensure that their vision becomes reality.

He also welcomed the release of two former officials as “an important confidence-building measure”. Ahead of Monday’s signing, the military authorities released Wagdi Salah, a prominent opposition figure who was detained earlier in the year.

Mr. Perthes, speaking at the signing ceremony for the new agreement, said that the process leading up to it had been “truly Sudanese-owned and Sudanese-led”.

‘New dynamic’

He applauded the military’s commitment outlined last July to transfer power back to civilian leaders, saying it had created a “new dynamic which is now reflected in the understanding about the transitional institutions.”

He also highlighted civilian leaders’ ability to establish a broad consensus through compromise and underscored the “decisive role” playing by young men and women demonstrators.

“Without them, we would probably not be here at this moment. It is my hope that these young men and women will consider this Agreement as an important first step towards the restoration of civilian rule and the realisation of the goals of the December revolution”, which led to the overthrow of former dictator, Omar al-Bashir, in 2019.

UN stands with you
Mr. Perthes acknowledged the “ultimate price” paid by many who had taken to the streets, saying the UN “stands with them in their demands for justice and accountability, and their freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

He said it was important for the second phase of consultation to begin immediately, for a comprehensive political settlement.

“While this framework agreement is not perfect, it does provide a very good basis to begin to restore civilian rule. I strongly encourage all other parties to join the political process and engage constructively in pursuit of this goal”, he concluded.