Sudan: UNITAMS Rebuts ‘Unwarranted Criticism’ By Sudan Foreign Minister

Khartoum — The United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) has issued a sharp response to remarks made at a press conference by Sudan’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali El Sadig, and Undersecretary, Ambassador Nader Yousef El Tayeb, that expressed their dissatisfaction with the performance of UNITAMS, and demanded that it fully carry out its mandate and fulfil its obligations.

In an extended rebuttal, UNITAMS says that “on Thursday, May 19, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release about its assessment of the performance of UNITAMS. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs preceded the issue of the press release by organising a press conference addressed by the Sudan’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali El Sadig, and Undersecretary, Ambassador Nader Yousef El Tayeb. In their press conference as well as press release, the representatives of the military authorities expressed their dissatisfaction with the performance of UNITAMS, and demanded that it fully carry out its mandate and fulfil its obligations, including facilitating peacebuilding, assisting in providing the requirements for a political transition, and mobilising the necessary resources, in accordance with the four objectives contained in the UN Security Council Resolution 2524/2020.”

The UNITAMS statement lists the military coup d’état of October 25 last year, the deep complications in the political scene in Sudan, and the overt and covert hostility towards UNITAMS by the counter-revolutionary forces and opponents of the transition to democratic civilian rule, as well as some political forces that support the democratic transition but refrain from cooperating with the mission for ideological reasons.

‘If the Sudanese stakeholders do not show the desire and ability to find national solutions to the country’s multiple problems, no other foreign party will be able to play that role, no matter how much efforts and resources they spend… ‘

The rebuttal concludes: “Finding acceptable and consensual national solutions to Sudan’s intractable political, economic and security problems is the responsibility of the political parties and the civil society forces, provided that the state’s military and security agencies remain neutral and play their professional role as stipulated by law without interfering in the political process to direct, sabotage or stop it. The military and security agencies should also move away from total control of the economy and focus on relevant strategic industries. If the Sudanese stakeholders, including the military and security institutions, do not show the desire and ability to find national solutions to the country’s multiple problems, no other foreign party will be able to play that role, no matter how much efforts and resources they spend.

“The military coup d’état against the government of Abdallah Hamdok and the consequent serious deterioration in all aspects of life in Sudan as well as the country’s growing international isolation and the reluctance of international financial institutions to provide financial resources, and freezing promised debt relief and external financial financing, are some of the strong reasons for the presence of UNITAMS. Such presence and efforts are key for the return of the transition to democratic civilian rule on its right track thus mobilising and ensuring the flow of international development assistance and humanitarian support for Sudan. The first step in this direction is to accelerate the joint efforts of UNITAMS, the African Union and the IGAD countries, to create conditions that enable the Sudanese parties to form a credible civilian-led government which enjoys recognition and trust of the Sudanese people.”

Previous criticism

The mission has previously faced criticism from the Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In March this year, as retort to UNITAMS head Volker Perthes’s briefing to the UN Security Council the Ministry said that UNITAMS “should focus on the other basic aspects of its mandate, instead of focusing most of its activities on only the political side”. Critics in Sudan derided this as “a desperate attempt to tame the UN mission”.

Mandate extended

Last week, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) extended the mandate of UNITAMS) until June 3, 2023. The decision passed by the UNSC in New York extends the initial UNITAMS mandate, which is due to expire on June 3, 2022, until June 3 2023 “as contained in paragraph 3 of resolution 2579 (2021)”.

UNITAMS was established in June 2020 with stated objectives “to assist Sudan in its transition towards democratic governance, provide support for peace negotiations and bolster efforts to maintain accountable Rule of Law and security institutions”.

This occurred as the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) completed its drawdown exercise on 30 June 2021, as stipulate in UN Security Council resolution 2559 (2020), which ended the Mission’s mandate.

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