Dr. Elshafie Khidir Saeid
You may have objections or reservations, political or ideological, to the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS). But, I think it is very difficult not to receive with admiration, appreciation, and respect the great outcome of phase one or the initial consultations that the mission has detailed in the report published last February.
It is true that Sudan, since the dawn of its independence, has witnessed many political consultation processes, most notably the Juba Conference in 1947, the Round Table Conference in 1965, the conferences of the forces of the April uprising in Wad Medani in 1985, the National Democratic Assembly conferences in Asmara 1995 and Massawa 2000, workshops and seminars organized by the University of Khartoum in 2019, the dialogues and negotiations between the opposition forces and the Ingaz regime, which resulted in several agreements, including the 1997 Khartoum Peace Agreement, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement 2005, the Cairo Agreement 2005, the Abuja Agreement 2006, the East Agreement 2006, and the Doha Agreement 2011, then the 2016 National Dialogue Conference.
However, I do believe that the political consultation process organized by UNITAMS and summarized in the above-mentioned report is an unprecedented political process in the modern history of Sudan, in terms of the scientific approach that was followed in the whole process, and in terms of the content that highlighted the main concerns of stakeholders and also provided a good basis for further thinking about the future of the political process in the country.
Also, the process is unprecedented in terms of the inclusiveness and the wide participation of the political parties, government officials, military, armed movements, civil society, women’s groups, resistance committees, youth organizations, Sufi leaders, businessmen, nomadic groups, expatriates…, and others. In this regard, the report says, “UNITAMS” conducted political consultations through more than 110 meetings attended by about 800 people, one-third of them were women, and it analyzed more than 80 written proposals. Moreover, the consultative process was not confined to Khartoum only, but also included all other states of Sudan.
The report summarizes the issues subject to consultation into the urgent priorities and truce measures, the future of the 2019 constitutional document, the civilians military, the institutions of the transitional period, the future of the Juba Peace Agreement, the security sector reform, the women’s rights and their participation, the transitional justice, the constitution-making, the elections, the realistic timetable for completing the transitional period, the role of international actors, and the features of the possible next steps.
These issues indeed address the current crisis in the country after the October 25 coup, but the consultations expanded to include Sudan’s future issues in the direction of an effective and sustainable solution to its chronic national crisis.
I believe that the methodology followed in the consultative process, the broad coverage and diversity of the groups approached, and the findings are written in the outcome report, all this leads us to say that this outcome report can constitute an appropriate ground for initiating the discussion on the preparations for the national constitutional conference, especially since UNITAMS made an appreciable effort in organizing the report in terms of summarizing the commonalities and clarifying the points of disagreements on the various issues.
Once more, I do believe that this report is very important and valuable, and I am suggesting to put it up for further discussion in various forums and platforms, as well as writing about it in newspapers and media, subjecting it to further analysis and concluding practical values. This is what I am intending to do in the coming articles.