A turbulent transition to civilian rule has been underway in Sudan since the overthrow of former President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April 2019. The civilian-led transitional government installed later that year, thanks to a power-sharing agreement between military and civilian leaders, was in turn overthrown by a military coup in October 2021.
Since then, the country no longer has a civilian-led government.
A subsequent political process jointly facilitated by the United Nations, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – a regional organization of East African countries – resulted in the signing of a agreement in December 2022 between the military and key civilian political actors, reinvigorating efforts to restore a credible democratic civilian government.
At the same time, the country’s economy has struggled and inter-communal clashes and other acts of armed violence have increased, with civilians paying a heavy price, with many lives lost and homes destroyed in the Darfur region and in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
The lingering political crisis has deepened marginalization and political grievances, as well as unresolved disputes over land ownership – all in a vast country of 48 million people, the third largest in Africa.
The challenges facing Sudan are many, including urgent humanitarian and economic needs, ensuring security and justice and respect for human rights, restoring peace and advancing democratic transition.
Despite this, after the signing of the Political Framework Agreement in December 2022, the political process continued to move forward at the start of the year with efforts focused on resolving outstanding issues that would pave the way for a final political agreement. .
In March, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, Volker Perthes, indicated that Sudanese stakeholders were “Closer than they’ve ever been” of a settlement and the return to civilian government.
New clashes derail political talks
These hopes were dashed when fighting broke out on April 15 between the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by Lieutenant-General Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, led by Lieutenant-General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, causing hundreds of dead and thousands of injured.
Even before the start of the current fighting, humanitarian needs across Sudan had reached record levels, with 15.8 million people – around a third of the total population – in need of humanitarian assistance this year. Recent violence has led to severe shortages of food, water, medicine and fuel, while prices for essential items, including transport, have soared.
The country also hosts more than one million refugees and asylum seekers, including from South Sudan, Eritrea, Syria, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Chad and Yemen. Secretary-General António Guterres called on the parties to immediately cease hostilities and allow all civilians to evacuate areas affected by the fighting.
The UN in Sudan
The UN is supporting Sudan’s democratic transition through the efforts of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), a special political mission led by Special Representative Perthes.
As hundreds of UN personnel and their families have been temporarily relocated elsewhere in Sudan or evacuated from the country, the Organization is committed to continuing its assistance work with its personnel, both in inside and outside the country, focused on the immediate priorities of a lasting ceasefire with a monitoring mechanism, a return to political negotiations, and the alleviation of human suffering.