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Sudan risks sliding into economic, security collapse: UN envoy

Volker Perthes, the UN secretary-general’s special representative and head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), briefs the Security Council on the situation in Sudan, at the UN headquarters in New York, on March 28, 2022. Xinhua Photo

United Nations | Xinhua | The top UN envoy for Sudan warned Monday that the country may risk sliding into an economic and security collapse and a worse humanitarian crisis.

“The stakes are high. The aspirations of Sudanese women and men for a prosperous, civilian-led, democratic future are at risk. Unless the current trajectory is corrected, the country will head toward an economic and security collapse, and significant humanitarian suffering,” said Volker Perthes, the UN secretary-general’s special representative and head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).

All Sudanese stakeholders will, therefore, need to be prepared to make compromises in the interests of the people, for stability and prosperity, he told the Security Council in a briefing.

Sudan has been without a functioning government since the military takeover in October 2021. In the absence of a political agreement to return to an accepted transitional path, the economic, humanitarian and security situation is deteriorating, he said.

“Time is not on Sudan’s side, and I speak to you today with a sense of urgency, which is also increasingly felt by Sudanese stakeholders concerned about the stability and the very existence of their country,” said Perthes.

On March 7, the country’s central bank announced the floating of the currency. In the following three weeks, the value of the Sudanese pound has fallen by over 45 percent against the U.S. dollar. At the same time, there have been dramatic price increases for bread, fuel, electricity, medicine, health care and public transport, he said.

Sudan also risks losing out on billions of external support as disbursements from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other major donors have been paused, and will continue to be paused as long as no functional government is in place. No foreign investment is coming in and exports have dwindled, he noted.

In the absence of a political solution to the crisis, the security situation has also worsened across the country. Crime and lawlessness are on the rise, and intercommunal conflicts in Darfur have intensified. Farmers have been dispossessed of their land through violent attacks, assets looted, and villages burnt. Women from all parts of the country report deepening concerns for their own safety, even in broad daylight, said Perthes.

More recently, there have also been disturbing reports of increased tensions between and within the different security forces. Some interlocutors express concern that if a political solution is not found, Sudan could descend into conflict and divisions as seen in Libya, Yemen or elsewhere, in a region already beset by instability, he said.

The United Nations, the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have agreed to join efforts to facilitate an inclusive, Sudanese-owned and Sudanese-led political process, focusing on a limited number of urgent priorities required to address the current crisis and restore constitutional order, said Perthes.

The priorities include interim constitutional arrangements, including the executive, legislative and judicial organs of the transition as well as their structure and functions; the criteria and mechanisms to appoint a prime minister and Cabinet; a roadmap for the transitional period and a government program focusing on an achievable set of priority areas, including the type, timing, and necessary conditions for elections at the end of this transitional period.

“We expect to start an intensive phase of talks in the next couple of weeks, fully recognizing that this will be during the holy month of Ramadan. We anticipate that stakeholders will participate in the month’s spirit of peace and forgiveness,” he said.

Over the last two weeks, the United Nations, the AU and IGAD have been working robustly to agree on a common approach and lay the ground for this process, including holding individual and joint meetings with some of the key stakeholders. Many of these stakeholders have emphasized the urgency of the situation and the need for a speedy yet sound resolution, he said.

If these political talks are to have a chance at succeeding, favorable conditions and a conducive environment must be created. This will entail primarily three things: an end to violence and ensuring the right to peaceful demonstrations, the release of political detainees, and a firm commitment to phase out the current emergency status in the country, said Perthes.

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Xinhua

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