Germany remains committed to fostering peace, prosperity and democracy in the Sudan
Khartoum, © Federal Foreign Office / P. Herzog
Two years after the peaceful revolution, the military coup in October 2021 brought an abrupt end to the process of transition in the Sudan that had been accompanied by such high hopes. Germany supports the United Nations initiative for a peaceful process to return to the civilian‑led transition.
Since the coup, large numbers of people in the Sudan have repeatedly taken to the streets to protest against the military’s seizure of power. Germany and many other states have condemned the coup and are calling for a return to the civilian‑led transition, an end to the violence against demonstrators, and a dialogue among Sudanese stakeholders.
On 18 January 2022, the core members of the Friends of Sudan Group, of which Germany was a co‑founder in 2019, met in Saudi Arabia. The Group discussed how the international community can help resolve the crisis and published a joint Statement One key point is support for the mediation initiative of the UN mission UNITAMS.
Major challenges following the peaceful revolution
Since the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, the civilian-led interim government under Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok had been focusing on the priority areas of peace and the economy in the Sudan. The conclusion of the Juba Peace Agreement in October 2020 with the majority of the armed groups was a key milestone. The interim government was faced with the challenge of implementing the agreement and completing the peace process with the remaining groups in order to pave the way for democratic elections. The formation of an interim parliament and the drafting of a permanent constitution were still pending.
In October 2021 the military seized power from Prime Minister Hamdok and his civilian-led interim government. This is jeopardising the continuation of the peace process, the implementation of economic reforms and the establishment of democratic, rule‑of‑law institutions. These measures, however, are urgently needed in order to improve the situation for the people in the Sudan.
Due to the economic mismanagement of the previous regime, the Sudanese population continues to suffer from a grave economic and supply crisis, which has been further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. First positive developments under the civilian-led interim government were brought to an abrupt end by the coup. The humanitarian situation also remains precarious. Around one third of the population is dependent on assistance.
Milestone in the debt relief process: HIPC Initiative of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund
With over 50 billion US dollars in debts, the Sudan is one of the most highly indebted countries in the world. With international assistance, the Sudan was able in late June 2021 to fulfil all necessary requirements in order to begin the debt relief process within the framework of the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) Initiative of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – an important step in the debt relief process. Before this process started, the interim government had already implemented a groundbreaking economic reform programme in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund, including measures to reduce subsidies and the long-awaited exchange rate reform.
The first facilitations regarding access to development funding and debt relief meant that the Sudan regained more financial leeway to advance the transition and implement key political and economic reforms tangible for the population. In response to the coup, the international support that was tied to implementation of these reforms has, however, been suspended. The future of the debt relief process remains unclear.
Cornerstone for debt relief: Sudan Partnership Conference in Berlin
The cornerstone for the Sudan’s reintegration into the international community and cooperation with international financial institutions was laid at the Sudan Partnership Conference co-hosted by Germany and held in Berlin in June 2020. Significant political support and financial assistance to the tune of 1.8 billion US dollars were mobilised at this conference.
The high-level Sudan conference held in Paris in May 2021 under the chairmanship of France’s President Macron, and which Foreign Minister Maas also attended, followed on from that: it launched the debt relief process. The German Government and other international partners pledged to help the Sudan on the road to long-term debt relief. Among other things, Germany announced the cancellation of bilateral debts amounting to 360 million euro.
Germany is supporting change in the Sudan: from humanitarian assistance to development cooperation
Germany has supported change in the Sudan from the outset. In September 2019, Heiko Maas was the first Western Foreign Minister to visit Khartoum after the peaceful revolution. Bilateral development cooperation was resumed in 2020. However, bilateral development cooperation measures to support the transition in the Sudan have been on hold since the military coup. Measures to support the population are continuing. Germany is also continuing its humanitarian assistance for the people in the Sudan. A total of 40.8 million euro was made available in 2021, and around nine million euro have already been pledged for 2022.
Support for the UN mission UNITAMS
Within the framework of stabilisation measures, Germany was also active – up until the coup – in the sphere of the rule of law and in efforts to strengthen the civilian interim government. The United Nations Security Council established UNITAMS in 2020, during Germany’s membership of the Council, as a special political mission in the Sudan, with Germany and the United Kingdom as co-penholders. The UN mission UNITAMS, led by Volker Perthes, is supported by Germany politically, financially and with personnel.
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