UN Chief commends ‘remarkable achievements’ in Sudan
The UN Secretary-General on Thursday recognized the “remarkable achievements and resilience of the Sudanese people, and its transitional government” since the overthrow of Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, as they “chart a new future together.”
António Guterres was delivering the opening remarks at a virtual High-Level Event on Sudan, which he co-hosted with Norway, on the margins of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.
“We are also here to highlight the importance of the international community investing in these vital efforts through concrete action and delivery of pledges,” he added.
Transition and progress
In the last two years, since the former president was overthrown by the Sudanese army after months of popular protests and demonstrations against his rule, the country has been going through a transition process.
Mr. Guterres recalled that, in late 2019, world leaders gathered to celebrate the adoption of the country’s “historic” Constitutional Document and to express solidarity for the new Transitional Government, led by Prime Minister Hamdok.
Since then, Sudan has reached important milestones.
Despite some challenges, the Secretary-General assured that democratic governance and peacemaking efforts have advanced.
For Mr. Guterres, the Juba Peace Agreement, signed almost a year ago, “paves the way for ending Sudan’s long-standing and devastating conflicts.” He said that “important work is underway to implement the Agreement and to reach a deal with non-signatory armed movements.”
Sudan has also undertaken ambitious economic reforms, culminating in the Decision Point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative.
The Secretary-General believes “this will allow a measure of relief from Sudan’s unsustainable debt burden and free up much-needed resources from the International Financial Institutions.”
For Mr. Guterres, the international community “must do everything possible to help advance these and other efforts.”
Last June, the UN Security Council mandated the Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), to provide support for the transition.
Looking ahead, he said that institutions such as the Transitional Legislative Council, will be crucial. The drafting of a constitution towards full elections, should yield “significant opportunities for further progress”, he added.
He also argued that women’s inclusion and meaningful participation “will benefit the future of all Sudanese.”
Sudan continues to confront complex security challenges however, and the Secretary-General condemned, once again, the attempted coup of 21 September, which failed, saying it “is a reminder of persistent threats.”
“It underscores the importance of undertaking all efforts to protect civilians, strengthen human rights, and provide safety and security for all,” he added.
On the humanitarian front, he noted improved access in some areas, but said more than 13 million people still need assistance.
Lastly, in an appeal to the international community, he said that the transitional Government and its partners can “help realize the vision of millions of Sudanese men and women, and most especially Sudanese youth, who risked their lives for democracy and peace.”
“We have an obligation to support these efforts,” he concluded.
The Prime Minister of Sudan, Abdalla Hamdok, also spoke at the event, highlighting several difficulties, including the economy and public debt.
“Today, we collect less than 6 per cent of the GDP in taxes. You will agree with me, you cannot run a decent government with that level of taxation,” he explained, adding that the country also owes more than $60 billion.
Stressing the importance of being “inclusive of everybody”, he pointed to “the challenges of laying out the foundation of the transition to democracy, which requires holding the Constitutional Conference and organizing the elections.”
“We need to work on managing our people’s expectations. The Sudanese people have, and rightly so, very high expectations about the transition, about the change. But this is the legacy of 30 years, you can’t undo it overnight,” he concluded.