Sudan – “The world has a right to worry”
The crisis in Sudan is sending shock waves beyond the continent. The country is at the center of disparate interests, making it difficult for the international community to unite in a decisive position to save its democracy.
The United Nations (UN) Security Council met in an emergency session on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Sudan. But the five permanent members failed to agree on a joint statement after China and Russia refused to threaten sanctions against the coup plotters if they refused to comply with demands to defuse the situation. .
“All states have their own interests and ideas about Sudan,” Volker Perthes, a special representative of the UN secretary general for Sudan, told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.
“Yesterday we saw that the analysis, for example, of Russia on the one hand and the United States and Western states on the other hand, is still very distant,” said Perthes.
Perthes warned of dire consequences if a “minimum” of unity is not maintained, saying it could potentially resemble recent conflicts in Libya and Syria.
“Any fragmentation, any major difference in the Security Council between the great powers ends up having repercussions on the internal situation of countries like Sudan”, he declared.
Increased pressure on Khartoum
The African Union (AU) acted unanimously on Wednesday suspending Sudan’s membership.
International pressure first appeared to produce results after ousted Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was allowed to return home on Tuesday evening. But many civilian and military leaders remain in detention. The coup plotters arrested several prominent pro-democracy activists on Wednesday.
The World Bank suspended aid to Sudan the same day, citing concerns about “the dramatic impact it may have on the country’s recovery and social and economic development,” according to a statement from President David Malpass. Previously, the United States announced that it would temporarily suspend $ 700 million (€ 600 million) in aid.
The European Union strongly condemned the military takeover. But according to Theodore Murphy, director of the Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, condemnation alone is not enough.
“When you undertake a coup, you don’t expect it to be well received,” he told DW. “You expect him to be sentenced. That’s the normal reaction. A statement alone will be interpreted by the military as a statement, which means there won’t really be any consequences.”
calls on Europe to act
The EU has an interest in stability in the region, not least given the potential for a new wave of refugees. But there are other factors at play, due to Sudan’s central role at the crossroads of the continent, according to Murphy.
“Sudan has the potential to play a positive role in Ethiopia, which is of interest to Europe, and in South Sudan, which is also of interest to Europe, and furthermore, in Chad, which is going through its own transition, and, finally, , in Libya, in the north, “he said.” But the key to all of this is that Sudan has a stable, functional and democratic government. “
Stability and democracy currently seem out of reach in Sudan. Around 60 people were killed and dozens more injured in the street protests that followed the army seizure on Monday. Civil resistance remains strong and shows no signs of abating.
“The world has a right to be worried,” Murithi Mutiga, director of the Horn of Africa project at the International Crisis Group, told DW.
Expected repercussions beyond the continent
Events in Sudan will inevitably have repercussions in Africa and beyond. The military leadership in Khartoum is likely to change the political dynamic between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia in the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Addis Ababa, due to the close relationship between the military leadership from Sudan and Egypt. Sudan could also play a more active role in the Ethiopian conflict by openly siding with Tigray forces.
“What we are seeing is a reversal from what we experienced about 10 years ago when Sudan was very close to the Ethiopian administration and therefore supported the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” Mutiga said.
Although it is difficult to make clear predictions at this point, Mutiga believes that “without a doubt, Cairo could see this [military takeover] as a satisfactory result. “
There is also a chance that Egypt and the Gulf states, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, will support a regime that is trying to crush democratic resistance – something they are deeply concerned about. But according to Mutiga, this would only prolong the crisis, which is not in anyone’s interest.
Human rights at stake
Mutiga believes that the merits of negotiation should not be downplayed by the international community when it comes to alleviating the crisis in Sudan.
“All actors, including the Gulf monarchies, must be aware of the need for a negotiated solution,” he said.
“There is no way that Sudan could easily be put on a strong man’s diet, especially after the Sudanese tasted the fruits of freedom in April 2019,” Mutiga added, referring to the people’s revolution. which ended the autocratic regime of President Omar al-Bashir. .
Suspending aid as a means of putting pressure on a junta may not be the best option, as human rights and people’s well-being are at stake.
“The tragedy is that much of this financial support was going to be channeled to the poorest of the poor, as Sudan goes through a terrible economic crisis,” Mutiga said.