Amidst the deteriorating situation inside Sudan, with continued and unrestrained brutality shown by the presiding coup authority towards peaceful protestors, the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission Sudan (UNITAMS), supported by the African Union (AU), is attempting to broker a return to negotiations in the country. The US envoy to the Horn of Africa and the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs are also due to visit Sudan next week to “marshal international support” for the UN mission. While some Sudanese opposition groups have welcomed this move, many remain steadfastly opposed to any attempt that countenances a continued role for the military junta in Sudan following their suspension of the democratic process in a coup last October. The prominent Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) is one of them. Mohaned Elnour, a human rights lawyer and spokesperson for the SPA, outlined the current situation for Liberation:
‘At least 71 martyrs, 2500 injured, scores of people raped, and hundreds arbitrarily detained, but our revolution continues and will never be defeated!‘
Since the coup on 25th October 2021, hundreds of protests have been taking place on an almost daily basis across Sudan. In addition to these demonstrations, there were 16 major protests in the capital, Khartoum – where protestors reached the presidential palace despite security-force barricades and the soldiers’ default recourse to brutal violence, including gang-rapes.
Sudanese people have clearly made their choice after experiencing what is called the “blood partnership government”, a set-up that failed either to prevent bloodshed of the Sudanese people or to improve their living conditions. The “three no’s” currently being articulated (“no partnership, no negotiation, no compromise”) stem from this unfinished transitional period which the military undermined in many ways, the coup being only one of them.
And, now, instead of suspending Sudan (as the AU did immediately after the coup) or sending a fact-finding mission to the country to investigate the ongoing serious crimes there and to hold the perpetrators accountable, the UN and AU initiatives seemingly aim to save the military’s leaders, who are responsible for the grave violations, and restore the above-mentioned discredited “blood partnership” over the will of the Sudanese people. UNITAMS has failed to protect and uphold the transitional arrangements and support Sudan in its civil democratic transformation, which is the core of its mission. It should have been honest and brave enough to admit that and either leave the country or receive another mandate from the UNSC.
The crimes that the Sudanese military committed on 17th January 2022 have proven that they are willing neither to negotiate nor listen. The Sudanese people are already well-aware of this, but the international community seemingly errs towards such a compromise thus undermining the revolution!
It is without doubt that the revolution has been overwhelmingly peaceful – and as it becomes ever wider, stronger and more organised than it was back in 2018; conversely, the coup authority (an extension of the Omar al-Bashir regime) is far weaker than al-Bashir’s dictatorship. Taking this reality into account, one must ask who benefits from shoring-up the coup authority and trying to help its leaders skip justice and accountability.
We believe the UNITAMS initiative, which is lacking in any vision, is a trap; almost all political parties in Sudan believe in people’s power and raise the “three no’s” having previously been cajoled by the military, and who wish to retain their historical interests and influence. Any negotiation with the perpetrators of abuse, thus repeating the mistake of April 2019, would mean there is no way back for them on the streets.
This is a postponed battle from April 2019, when some political parties played a dangerous game of halting their way along the revolutionary road and deferring to the military, the heirs of the al-Bashir dictatorship. However, such a course is no longer feasible given the momentum already built for radical change in Sudan amongst revolutionary forces now united to this end. No-one else has a legitimate say now!
Image: London protest (Isai Priya/CC)