UN calls for immediate ceasefire in Sudan and resumption of democratic transition talks

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN Security Council on Friday called for an immediate ceasefire in Sudan, followed by a final cessation of hostilities and new efforts to reach a lasting democratic political settlement in that country. country ravaged by conflict.

The UN’s most powerful body has strongly condemned all attacks on civilians since fighting between rival generals vying for power erupted in mid-April.

The conflict has left hundreds of civilians dead and nearly a million people fleeing their homes to try to escape the violence, according to the UN

The council’s press statement was issued ahead of a vote later on Friday to extend the UN’s political mission in the country for six months, instead of a year, to give the council time to reflect on its future .

On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked to brief the council behind closed doors for only the fifth time since taking office in January 2017 about the impact of the ongoing conflict on the mission of the UN known as UNITAMS. It was established by the council on June 3, 2020 to provide support to Sudan during its political transition to democratic rule.

After his briefing, the UN chief told the 15-member council that it was up to them to decide whether to continue the political mission in Sudan or whether it was “time to end it”.

After the ousting of Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir in 2019, Sudan embarked on a precarious democratic transition led by civilian and military leaders. But the generals seized complete power in a coup in October 2021, before turning against each other.

Sudanese leader General Abdel-Fattah Burhan and General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who lead the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, agreed to reinstate the transition but clashed over the terms of merging the RSF into the army, a disagreement that exploded into open conflict in April. 15.

A week ago, Burhan demanded in a letter to António Guterres that the UN special envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, be removed from his post, saying that his approach during the pre-war talks between the generals had helped inflame the conflict and accusing him of “being partisan”. The UN chief was “shocked” by the letter.

After Wednesday’s meeting, Guterres said he reaffirmed to the board “my full confidence in Volker Perthes.”

In Friday’s statement, the Security Council reaffirmed its support for UNITAMS, led by Perthes, and stressed the need for “enhanced international coordination and continued collaboration”.

Late Thursday, the United States and Saudi Arabia announced they were suspending peace talks with representatives of the two generals that had been taking place in the Saudi city of Jeddah since late May. The Sudanese military had suspended its participation in the talks on Wednesday, citing “repeated violations” by RSF forces of a humanitarian ceasefire brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia, including their continued occupation of the hospitals and other civilian infrastructure in the capital, Khartoum. The RSF said it “unconditionally supports the Saudi-American initiative”.

The joint U.S.-Saudi statement said the talks were suspended “due to repeated serious violations of the short-term ceasefire and the recent extension of the ceasefire” on Monday.

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