Less than 3 months ago, Norway co-hosted a high-level event at the General Assembly to support Sudan’s democratic transition. We said: “The Sudan is back – there can be no return to the past”.
It is therefore with deep concern that we have now seen the exact opposite: On 25th October military leaders set aside the constitutional declaration, introduced a state of emergency, and dissolved the civilian component of the transitional government. Next came arbitrary arrests and detentions of: political opposition leaders, civil society, lawyers, journalists, and peaceful protesters. We lament that more than 40 were killed.
We continue to hold the security forces responsible for protecting civilians and respecting human rights- including the freedom of expression, and right to peaceful assembly. Unlawful detentions of people for their political beliefs, and hindering access to hospitals, are unacceptable. We repeat that all remaining political detainees across the country must be released, and that deaths and injuries must be investigated independently, and transparently.
While the Sudan is going through a difficult period, we strongly believe that it is not too late to get the transition back on track. This should be our common purpose.
We encourage all to learn from the lessons of the recent past. Political processes are more likely to succeed when decision makers bring different perspectives to the table. In this next phase, we expect to see more direct participation of Sudanese women and youth in political talks. UNITAMS can play an important role in facilitating an inclusive dialogue.
The political arrangement between Prime Minister Hamdok, and Chairperson Burhan, was an important first step. Swift appointment of a new government is now needed to move toward the next phase. This is also essential for reengagement with the international community. Additionally, unfettered humanitarian access remains a priority and a leading principle. Displaced people and other civilians- including children- remain at extreme risk.
The recent violent attacks in Darfur- with scores of people killed and thousands displaced- are cause for major concern. It is critical that the protection of civilians is meaningfully pursued, and that the National Plan for Civilian Protection is updated to reflect the realities faced by the population. National authorities bear the primary responsibility for protection of civilians and prevention of conflict across the country. UNITAMs has an important supporting role in preventing conflict and protecting civilians, in line with their mandate.
The current political crisis in Sudan is adding to an already dangerously unstable situation in the Horn of Africa. Particularly worrying is reports of renewed clashes in the contested border areas between Sudan and Ethiopia. We strongly encourage both countries to show the utmost restraint. Preventing further armed conflict, and the proliferation of non-state armed actors, must be the highest priority for all.
We welcome the work of the UN to facilitate dialogue, and we encourage the African Union and IGAD to step up their efforts- including by extending their good offices to support a process that can bring Sudan’s transition back on track.
We call on all parties to redouble their efforts to address unresolved issues. And, to do so in an inclusive manner, to rebuild trust, and meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people.