Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Sudan and the activities of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (S/2020/912) [EN/AR]

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I. Introduction

1.The present report, submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2524 (2020), is the first 90-day report on the implementation of the mandate related to the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS). The report covers political, security, socioeconomic, human rights and humanitarian developments in the Sudan from 3 June to 8 September 2020 and contains an update on the planning process for the establishment of the Mission. The suggested structure and geographical deployment of the Mission and the 90-day report on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) are included as annexes to the present report.

II. Significant developments

Political situation

2.During the reporting period, the transitional Government continued to pursue ambitious political reforms, make progress in the peace process and tackle the rapidly deteriorating economic situation, while faced with rising pressure from the Sudanese population to meet its demands rapidly. The transitional Government largely implemented key transition benchmarks laid out in the August 2019 Constitutional Document, despite competing priorities and the added challenge of responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Its achievements included amendments to the penal code, which will improve the protection of fundamental rights, the appointment of interim civilian governors in all 18 states and reaching a comprehensive peace agreement with some armed groups in Darfur and the Two Areas.

3.Amid continuing tensions between the military and civilian components of the Government, deepening divisions also emerged within the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), further fracturing the political landscape. SPA, the trade union umbrella organization prominent throughout the protests and during the country’s ongoing transition, split from FFC in June and has itself divided into factions. For FFC, the inability to reach a consensus has affected its influence and ability to make decisions. The resistance committees, which had initially struggled to turn their public support into political influence, emerged as a key political actor as demonstrations reignited across the country.

4.Marking the start of a period of increased protests, on 3 June, hundreds of people demonstrated in Khartoum on the first anniversary of the violent raid against peaceful protesters at the sit-in site outside the military headquarters. Protesters were critical of the body investigating the events of 3 June 2019 because of its repeated delays in releasing the findings. On 29 June, on the eve of mass protests, former National Congress Party leaders, including Ibrahim Ghandour, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Sudan, were arrested. On 30 June, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated throughout the Sudan demanding faster reforms and greater civilian rule in the country’s transition towards democracy. While protesters’ demands varied in different areas of the country, they all renewed their calls for the transitional Government to speed up the implementation of the key political benchmarks of the Constitutional Declaration.

5.The demonstrations of 30 June were led by resistance committees, grass-roots-level neighbourhood groups linked through a national network, which have come to the fore as a new brand of political organization beyond traditional political parties. The main demands included the completion of the formation of the transitional Government, the appointment of civilian governors, the designation of the members of the legislative council and independent commissions, the conclusion of an agreement on a comprehensive peace, the conduct of defence and security sector reform, the carrying out of transitional justice and economic reforms that bring equality and justice, and the development of a roadmap for recovery and pro-poor development. On 9 July, in response to popular demands and following a performance assessment, the Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, asked seven members of his cabinet to resign. Acting ministers were immediately appointed to serve until the appointment of new ministers, which was slated to happen after the signature of the peace agreement, scheduled for 2 October.

6.On 22 July, the Prime Minister appointed interim civilian governors for all 18 states, including two women, pending full appointments, which were expected to take place after the signing of the peace agreement in October. The interim appointments of several governors were contested including in Kassala, Gedaref, East Darfur and Northern Kordofan states. While the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) had initially agreed to the appointment of interim governors, it later criticized the appointment process, which, it stated, would lead to divisions and communal tension.

7.On 17 August, the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Constitutional Declaration, the resistance committees launched a new campaign of demonstrations in Khartoum with similar demands to those voiced at the protests of 30 June. The protesters clashed with police, which used tear gas and reportedly arrested 77 people. The protests themselves marked a more visible approach on the part of the resistance committees to voicing their dissatisfaction with the pace of the transition. Since 17 August, protests and daily marches have continued across the Sudan. In a speech delivered on his first anniversary in office, 21 August, the Prime Minister acknowledged that there were difficulties regarding the transition, including differences between the civilian and military components of the governing institutions on key reforms, particularly with regard to security sector reform, measures to deal with the economic crisis and the transfer of military-owned businesses to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

8.On 29 August, a peace agreement was reached between the transitional Government, the SRF alliance and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)-Minni Minawi faction, concluding nearly a year of negotiations mediated by the Government of South Sudan. Signatories under the SRF umbrella included the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement/Transitional Council and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) Malik Agar faction. The agreement includes a number of protocols and covers key issues related to security arrangements and the integration of combatants into the Sudanese army, land ownership, transitional justice, power-sharing and the return of displaced persons. The SLA-Abdul Wahid al-Nur faction did not participate in the Juba-based negotiations and has rejected the agreement.

9.On 3 September, the transitional Government and SPLM-N Abdelaziz Al-Hilu faction signed a joint agreement on, inter alia, principles for maintaining the cessation of hostilities throughout the peace process until security arrangements were agreed. In the agreement, the parties also affirmed that the future constitution should be based on the principle of separation of religion and State, in the absence of which the right to self-determination in the Two Areas must be respected. Mr. Al-Hilu himself has made it clear he remains committed to the Juba process as set out in the agreement on negotiation issues of 18 October 2019.