Just met with @SudanPMHamdok at his residence where he remains well but under house arrest. We discussed options for mediation and the way forward for Sudan. I will continue these efforts with other Sudanese stakeholders.
— Volker Perthes (@volkerperthes) October 31, 2021
Last Monday, the Sudanese army dissolved the power-sharing transitional government and detained civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his cabinet.
The UN was quick to condemn the coup, and the arrests, and call for the restoration of constitutional order.
“Many of the interlocutors we are speaking with in Khartoum, but also internationally and regionally, are expressing a strong desire that we move forward quickly to get out of the crisis and return to the steps of normalcy, to the steps of political transition, as we viewed it before 25 October, on the basis of the Constitutional Declaration,” said Mr. Perthes.
Prime Minister ‘not free’
The UN envoy has met several times with Prime Minister Hamdok, who is no longer detained but under house arrest at his residence. Though physically well, “he is not free”, said Mr. Perthes.
The coup took place as Sudan was progressing along a democratic path following the ouster of longstanding leader, President Omar al-Bashir, in April 2019.
On Saturday, scores of citizens took to the streets in nationwide mass demonstrations against the coup, billed as the “march of millions”, though exact numbers are unknown.
Several protesters were reportedly killed, and Mr. Perthes deplored the loss of life, as well as the use of teargas and other measures.
Meanwhile, multiple negotiations are ongoing in the capital to resolve the crisis.
“There is a lot of shuttling between the General Command in the Prime Minister’s residence, and other places where other officials are located,” he reported.
Mr. Perthes listed some participants, who include the Forces of Freedom and Change, the main opposition coalition, and armed groups from the volatile Darfur region who signed an historic peace deal with the transitional authorities in October 2020.
The UN continues its good offices role in Sudan and is supporting some of the talks.
“In essence, we’re engaging with all Sudanese across a very broad political spectrum,” said Mr. Perthes, who is also head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).
“This political spectrum is broader than that that was represented in the transitional set-up. And, of course, it includes people who would not necessarily want us to mediate, or are not in favour of restoring the civilian-military partnership.”
Hopes for resolution
The UN is also engaging with the African Union (AU) and other regional and international bodies.
Mr. Perthes said he is in contact with countries such as the United Arab Emirates, as well as South Sudan and other African states, and naitons from outside the region, including members of the UN Security Council.
He expressed hope that the “contours of a package” will emerge in the coming days.
Asked which countries could exert pressure on the situation, he responded that the United States, Egypt, South Sudan and “wider regional neighbours” could play a role.