April 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 March 2019
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AFRICA

Sudan (Darfur)

Expected Council Action

In April, the Security Council will be briefed on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) as requested in resolution 2429, which is due to be submitted by 9 April. Consultations are expected to follow the briefing.

The mandate of UNAMID expires on 30 June.

Key Recent Developments

On 22 February, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir declared a nationwide state of emergency for one year. The announcement came in response to ongoing protests across Sudan calling for President al-Bashir, who has ruled the country for nearly three decades, to step down. (The protests began in December 2018, sparked by food and fuel shortages.) The state of emergency led to the federal and state governments being dissolved while the national and state assemblies were maintained. Additionally, the Minister of Defence was given the role of the First Vice-President; 18 new governors with military and security positions were appointed to replace dismissed governors; and the Sudanese Armed Forces were assigned to maintain law and order. On 11 March, the National Legislative Assembly approved a shortening of the state of emergency from one year to six months.

On 26 February, the US, the UK, Norway and Canada issued a joint statement saying the “return to military rule does not create a conducive environment for a renewed political dialogue or credible elections”. The statement also noted “the ongoing detention of political leaders, activists and journalists…[and] continuing reports of unacceptable use of live fire, beating of protestors and mistreatment of detainees”.

The Darfur peace process has again stalled in the context of the ongoing protests, which have included sporadic protests in some areas of Darfur. Reportedly citing solidarity with the protesters, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)/Gibril Ibrahim faction and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)/Minni Minawi faction revoked their December 2018 agreement to resume talks with the Sudanese government in January. On 20 March, the Sudanese opposition alliance Sudan Call announced its decision to withdraw from the AU High-Level Implementation Panel’s Roadmap Agreement for Ending the Conflicts in Sudan, signed with the government in 2016.

On 28 January, al-Bashir declared an open-ended cessation of hostilities in Darfur and Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states (also known as the “Two Areas”). On 9 February, the SLA/Minni Minawi faction, JEM/Gibril Ibrahim faction and two other groups extended a unilateral cessation of hostilities in Darfur and the Two Areas until 8 May. However, there are reports of ongoing violence in the Jebel Marra region between the government and the SLA/Abdul Wahid faction.

Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Bintou Keita briefed the Council on 25 February, following her joint visit to Sudan from 9 to 12 February, along with Assistant Secretary-General at the UN Development Programme Mourad Wahba, and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support Oscar Fernandez-Taranco. Keita told the Council of a “collective responsibility to ensure that UNAMID’s exit does not create a vacuum that leads to persistent local-level tensions or new risk factors”, adding that the visit served to highlight “the challenging factors that the government, UNAMID and UN country team are facing to maintain the pace of the transition, including in terms of the availability of resources.”

On UNAMID’s drawdown as set out in resolution 2429, Keita told the Council that ten UNAMID team sites were closed by December 2018 and handed over to the government, in accordance with agreements signed with the mission. She said the former sector headquarters in Nyala, Ed Daein and El Geneina are due to be closed by June, leaving the remaining 13 team sites in the greater Jebel Marra and the logistics hub in El Fasher. She also said that the new mission headquarters in Zalingei is fully operational while the office of the Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID has been relocated to Khartoum. 

On 18 March, a joint AU-UN Strategic Assessment Team on UNAMID held a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting, attended by Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID Jeremiah Mamabolo, focused on issues related to the mission’s ongoing transition process.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 12 February, the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee met with representatives of Sudan, the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, South Sudan and Uganda to discuss implementation of the sanctions measures and the 10 January final report of the Panel of Experts. On 18 March, five experts were appointed to the Panel of Experts assisting the Committee. On 26 March, Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), chair of Committee, provided the quarterly briefing to the Council on the work of the Committee, during which she expressed her intention to visit the country, at dates yet to be determined. 

Key Issues and Options

A key issue that Council members will want to follow closely is the effect on the security situation of further troop reductions and implementation of the mission’s revised priorities as set out in resolution 2429. The impact of recent developments, including the lack of progress in the peace process and ongoing violence in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, will be an additional factor.

A related issue is to monitor progress made on the proposed benchmarks and indicators of achievement for the exit of the mission set out in the Secretary-General’s report of 12 October 2018. The Council took note of these in its 11 December 2018 presidential statement “to help guide the Security Council’s considerations on the future of UNAMID’s mandate.” An option would be to invite Mamabolo to brief the Council on progress and challenges in meeting the benchmarks and on the mission’s transition progress. The upcoming strategic review, requested in resolution 2429 by 1 May, is expected to further inform the Council’s thinking ahead of the 30 June expiry of UNAMID’s mandate.

Council Dynamics

There continue to be differences amongst Council members in assessing the situation in Darfur, as was again made apparent during the discussion following the 25 February briefing. Several members–including Belgium, France, Germany, the US and the UK–raised concern over the ongoing protests in Sudan and the national state of emergency. In its statement the UK said that “political instability in the Sudan and the declaration of a state of emergency naturally affect the situation in Darfur…[and] call into question the Government’s commitment to delivering progress on human rights, the rule of law and security sector reform”. Germany expressed the view that these events made it “necessary to look even more closely at the benchmarks for a withdrawal of [UNAMID], in particular the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, while France said the withdrawal of UNAMID must be “adapted to the situation on the ground” and should be “gradual and cautious”.

However, Russia expressed the view that these events “have nothing to do with” the Council’s consideration of the situation in Darfur and UNAMID, saying that “it is important to continue the process of drawing down UNAMID’s military component”. Other members, including China, Indonesia, Kuwait and South Africa, along with Russia, highlighted the improved situation in Darfur and did not refer to the ongoing protests.

The UK and Germany are co-penholders on the issue; Poland chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee. 

UN Documents on Darfur

Security Council Resolutions
13 July 2018S/RES/2429 This was a resolution, adopted unanimously, extending until 30 June 2019 the mandate of UNAMID. The resolution decided to reduce, over the course of the mandate renewal period, the troop ceiling to 4,050 personnel and authorised the deployment of the necessary police force, not exceeding 2,500 personnel.
Security Council Presidential Statements
11 December 2018S/PRST/2018/19 This was a presidential statement on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur.
Secretary-General’s Reports
14 January 2019S/2019/44 This was the 90-day report of the Secretary-General on UNAMID.
Security Council Meeting Records
26 March 2019S/PV.8490 This was the quarterly briefing by the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
25 February 2019S/PV.8468 This was a briefing on UNAMID.