After the peaceful revolution, what Comes next?
In 2019 the peaceful protests by the courageous and resolute Sudanese people led to the fall of President Bashir’s regime. The Sudanese military deposed the long-standing ruler and, under pressure from civil society, agreed with the opposition alliance on a civilian-led interim government, which began work in the autumn of 2019 under Prime Minister Hamdok. The transitional phase, lasting several years, is to be followed by free and fair democratic elections.
The Government is facing huge challenges on the road to peace and democracy. In particular, it needs to overcome the acute economic crisis, which has been further heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Far-reaching reforms, such as exchange rate adjustment and the reduction of subsidies, are vital if the Sudanese economy is to be fit for the future. Moreover, the Government is seeking a comprehensive, sustainable peace deal with the armed groups.
In order to master these challenges, the Sudan is dependent on substantial support from international and regional partners. In hosting the high-level Sudan Partnership Conference, Germany is taking on responsibility and bringing the Sudan’s international partners, friends and neighbours together at one (virtual) table to ensure the long-term success of the Sudan’s Transition.
The Sudan Partnership Conference
The informal Friends of Sudan group was established in June 2019 on a German initiative to coordinate international support for the political and economic transition in the Sudan. Now, exactly a year later, the Sudan Partnership Conference hosted by Germany marks the official launch of a political process between the Sudan and the international community to support the country on its way to peace and democracy. At the same time, financial support will be made available at the conference, so that the interim Government in the Sudan can implement a programme of social measures to cushion the effects of the urgently needed economic reforms. This is intended to provide rapid assistance to needy families in the Sudan in the face of reduced subsidies and other repercussions of the reform process. Further, the conference will point to the next steps in the Sudan’s engagement with the international financial institutions, aimed at smoothing the way for a possible debt relief process under the HIPC Initiative.
German support for the Sudan
The Sudan Partnership Conference is an important milestone in German support for the transition in the Sudan. In September 2019, Foreign Minister Maas became the first top Western diplomat to visit the country after the fall of Bashir. In February 2020, both Development Minister Müller and Federal President Steinmeier visited Khartoum, and Federal Chancellor Merkel met Sudanese Prime Minister Hamdok for working talks in Berlin. Also that month, the German Bundestag adopted a decision calling on the Federal Government to support the Sudan and to resume bilateral development cooperation. In addition, Germany has been providing humanitarian assistance for the Sudan for years, and is currently supporting the interim government through stabilisation projects, for instance in the fields of rule of law promotion, government capacity-building and peace mediation.
Germany also works to support the Sudan within the framework of the United Nations. At the beginning of June, the UN Security Council unanimously approved the mandate for a new UN political mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS) in response to a resolution co-sponsored by Germany and the United Kingdom. UNITAMS will support the process of democratic transition throughout the Sudan from the beginning of 2021. In particular, it will focus on human rights protection, support for the Sudanese peace process and the further stabilisation of the Darfur region. German police officers and members of the Bundeswehr will continue to participate in the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), whose mandate has been extended till the end of 2020.