Moving from Sudan’s current fragile transition period towards stable civilian rule, requires a continued “spirt of unity, partnership and collaboration”, a senior UN official told the Security Council on Thursday.
“One of the key messages remains that we expect all parts of Sudan to work together for all of Sudan”, Special Representative Volker Perthes said after consulting on the country’s future with a wide and diverse group of participants.
Having just returned from the Paris Conference, designed to encourage the economic revitalization of the country, he told ambassadors that Member States had announced bilateral debt forgiveness to help Sudan clear its arrears with international financial institutions.
Sudanese civil society also shared their vision of a new Sudan based on freedom, justice and economic opportunity, while Prime Minister Abadalla Hamdok reiterated his commitment to peace, said Mr. Perthes, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).
“I encourage all of Sudan’s international and domestic partners to continue supporting Sudan as it implements key economic and political reforms”.
Road to comprehensive peace
Beginning with the peace process, the UN envoy said that on 28 March the Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council – which combines military and civilian representatives – and the leader of rebel group, the Sudan People Liberation Movement, had signed a Declaration of Principles, which paves the way for a final agreement.
He also said that during talks scheduled for next week, UNITAMS would support the parties as well as neighbouring South Sudan, the mediator, as required.
The UN official also discussed with Abdulwahid al Nur, leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army, in Darfur, one of the other main non-signatory factions, the importance of engaging politically with the Government for “a comprehensive peace”.
The Government continues its efforts to advance the political transition, including the “important steps” of establishing a Peace Commission, Anti-corruption Commission, and Transitional Justice Commission, among others, said Mr. Perthes.
Turning to delays in the transition process, he pointed “most importantly” to the fact that an inclusive and representative Transitional Legislative Council with at least 40 per cent female participation has yet to be realized.
Amidst “great concern” over the limited progress in implementing the Juba Peace Agreement of October last year, the UN envoy noted some advances, such as preparations to establish its Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism.
“Other critical aspects remain unfulfilled”, he said, pointing to security arrangements, a ceasefire, a Joint Protection Force and other security committees, all of which have “a direct bearing on protection of civilians and overall stability”.
Resolving armed conflict
After intercommunal clashes that left 144 dead and some 65,000 displaced last month in Darfur, the Special Representative told the Council that the Government had decided to implement further critical security measures, including joint security forces, enhanced security arrangements, related ceasefire committees, and more humanitarian relief.
Despite the willingness of armed movements to put forward named representatives for ceasefire committees and identify personnel for joint security forces, he said, “deployments have yet to commence”.
“I fear that without the speedy establishment of these Joint Forces, and the implementation of Sudan’s National Plan for the Protection of Civilians, we could see similar incidents like Geneina be repeated”, the UN official warned, referring to five days of fighting in West Darfur that left scores dead.
Meanwhile, Sudanese women leaders have continued to draw attention to disparities in safety, basic needs and political participation, demanding their rights as continued reports reveal human rights violations against women and girls, including through social media campaigns inciting violence.
The Special Representative the Government’s decision to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women was “an important step forward” as well as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and pledged the mission’s continued support for “an environment where women live free of fear for their safety and exercise their full rights”
Partnership with Private Sector is Key in Closing Rwanda’s Infrastructure Gap
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has pushed the Rwandan economy into recession in 2020 for the first time since 1994, according to the World Bank’s latest Rwanda Economic Update.
The 17th edition of the Rwanda Economic Update: The Role of the Private Sector in Closing the Infrastructure Gap, says that the economy shrank by 3.7 percent in 2020, as measures implemented to limit the spread of the coronavirus and ease pressures on health systems brought economic activity to a near standstill in many sectors. Although the economy is set to recover in 2021, the report notes the growth is projected to remain below the pre-pandemic average through 2023.
Declining economic activity has also reduced the government’s ability to collect revenue amid increased fiscal needs, worsening the fiscal situation. Public debt reached 71 percent of GDP in 2020, and is projected to peak at 84 percent of GDP in 2023. Against this backdrop, the report underlines the importance of the government’s commitment to implement a fiscal consolidation plan once the crisis abates to reduce the country’s vulnerability to external shocks and liquidity pressures.
“Narrowing fiscal space calls for a progressive shift in Rwanda’s development model away from the public sector towards a predominantly private sector driven model, while also stepping up efforts to improve the efficiency of public investment,” said Calvin Djiofack, World Bank’s Senior Economist for Rwanda.
According to the Update, private sector financing, either through public-private partnerships or pure private investment, will be essential for Rwanda to continue investing in critical infrastructure needed to achieve its development goals. The analysis underscores the need to capitalize further on Rwanda’s foreign direct investment (FDI) regulatory framework, considered one of the best in the continent, to attract and retain more FDI; to foster domestic private capital mobilization through risk sharing facilities that would absorb a percentage of the losses on loans made to private projects; and to avoid unsolicited proposals of public–private partnership (PPP) initiatives; as well as to build a robust, multisector PPP project pipeline, targeting sectors with clearly identified service needs such as transport, water and sanitation, waste management, irrigation, and housing.
While the report findings establish clearly the gains of public infrastructure development for the country as whole, it also stressed that these gains tend to benefit urban and richer households most.
“Rwanda will need to rebalance its investment strategy from prioritizing large strategic capital-intensive projects toward projects critical for broad-based social returns to boost the potential of public infrastructure to reduce inequality and poverty,” said Rolande Pryce, World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda. “Any step toward the Malabo Declaration to allocate 10 percent of future infrastructure investment to agriculture, allied activities, and rural infrastructure, will go a long way to achieving this goal.”
Greenpeace Africa responds to the cancellation of oil blocks in Salonga National Park
On Monday the UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided to remove Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The decision follows clarification “provided by the national authorities that the oil concessions overlapping with the property are nul[l] and void and that these blocks will be excluded from future auctioning.”
Oil blocks overlapping with Salonga were awarded by President Joseph Kabila in the twilight of his regime. Greenpeace Africa has repeatedly demanded their cancellation, while local leaders voiced their opposition to the project in light of its impacts on communities.
“A decision by President Felix Tshisekedi to cancel all oil blocks in Salonga Park must be followed by a decision to cancel oil blocks in Virunga Park and across the Cuvette Centrale region. These are vast areas rich in biodiversity that provide clean water, food security and medicine to local communities and which render environmental services to humanity,” says Irene Wabiwa Betoko, International Project Leader for the Congo Basin forest.
The Salonga National Park, which is Africa’s largest tropical rainforest reserve, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1984. The park plays a fundamental role in climate regulation and the sequestration of carbon. The park is also home to numerous endemic endangered species such as the pygmy chimpanzee (or bonobo), the forest elephant, the African slender-snouted crocodile and the Congo peacock. Salonga had been inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1999, due to pressures such as poaching, deforestation and poor management. The government of DRC later on issued oil drilling licences that encroached on the protected area, posing a threat to the wildlife-rich site.
“DRC’s auctioning of oil blocks has not only been scandalously lacking transparency and menacing for particularly sensitive environmental areas – they neither benefit Congolese people nor the planet. Instead of privileging a small group of beneficiaries of the toxic fossil fuels industry, diversifying the DRC’s economy should be done through renewable energy investments that will make energy accessible and affordable for all,” Irene Wabiwa concluded.
Greenpeace Africa urges full transparency from both UNESCO and the DRC government and calls for the publication of all supportive documents regarding the decision to cancel the aforementioned oil blocks, as well as the map of the nine oil blocks that are still being auctioned in the Cuvette Centrale region.
Domestic violence, forced marriage, have risen in Sudan
Deteriorating economic conditions since 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic have fuelled an increase in domestic violence and forced marriage in Sudan, a UN-backed study has revealed.
Voices from Sudan 2020, published this week, is the first-ever nationwide qualitative assessment of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country, where a transitional government is now in its second year.
Addressing the issue is a critical priority, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Government’s Combating Violence against Women Unit (CVAW), co-authors of the report.
“The current context of increased openness by the Government of Sudan, and dynamism by civil society, opens opportunities for significant gains in advancing women’s safety and rights,” they said.
Physical violence at home
The report aims to complement existing methods of gathering data and analysis by ensuring that the views, experiences and priorities of women and girls, are understood and addressed.
Researchers found that communities perceive domestic and sexual violence as the most common GBV issues.
Key concerns include physical violence in the home, committed by husbands against wives, and by brothers against sisters, as well as movement restrictions which women and girls have been subjected to.
Another concern is sexual violence, especially against women working in informal jobs, but also refugee and displaced women when moving outside camps, people with disabilities, and children in Qur’anic schools.
Pressure to comply
Forced marriage is also “prominent”, according to the report. Most of these unions are arranged between members of the same tribe, or relatives, without the girl’s consent or knowledge.
Meanwhile, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) remains widespread in Sudan, with varying differences based on geographic location and tribal affiliation. Although knowledge about the illegality and harmfulness of the practice has reached community level, child marriage and FGM are not perceived as key concerns.
Women’s access to resources is also severely restricted. Men control financial resources, and boys are favoured for access to opportunities, especially education. Verbal and psychological pressure to comply with existing gender norms and roles is widespread, leading in some cases to suicide.
The deteriorating economic situation since 2020, and COVID-19, have increased violence, especially domestic violence and forced marriage, the report said. Harassment in queues for essential supplies such as bread and fuel has also been reported.
Data dramatically lacking
Sudan continues to move along a path to democracy following the April 2019 overthrow of President Omar Al-Bashir who had been in power for 30 years.
Openly discussing GBV “has not been possible for the last three decades”, according to the report.
“GBV data is dramatically lacking, with no nation-wide assessment done for the past 30 years, and a general lack of availability of qualitative and quantitative data,” the authors said.
To carry out the assessment, some 215 focus group discussions were held with communities: 21 with GBV experts, as well as a review of existing studies and assessments.
Research was conducted between August and November 2020, encompassing 60 locations and camps, and the data was scanned through a software for qualitative analysis, followed a model first used in Syria.
Pakistani PM’s Interview with PBS News Hours on Afghanistan Issues
In an interview with PBS News Hour, host Judy Woodruff asked PM Imran Khan multiple questions about Pakistan’s point of...
Hardened US and Iranian positions question efficacy of parties’ negotiating tactics
The United States and Iran seem to be hardening their positions in advance of a resumption of negotiations to revive...
Criticism Highlights Russia’s Media Weakness in Africa
In her weekly media briefing July 23, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized United States support for educational programs, media...
Is your security compromised due to “Spy software” know how
Spy software is often referred to as spyware is a set of programs that gives access to user/ administrators to...
The other side of the Olympics
The world Olympic movement has always been based on the principles of equal and impartial attitude towards athletes – representatives...
Tunisia between Islamism and the ‘Delta variant’
On Sunday 25 July, on a day dedicated to celebrating the country’s independence, in a move that surprised observers and...
International Criminal Court and thousands of ignored complaints
The civil war in Donbass has been going on for more than seven years now. It broke out in 2014,...
Americas3 days ago
Wendy Sherman’s China visit takes a terrible for the US turn
Intelligence3 days ago
China and Russia’s infiltration of the American Jewish and Israeli lobbies
East Asia2 days ago
Will US-China Tensions Trigger the Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis?
Economy2 days ago
The Monetary Policy of Pakistan: SBP Maintains the Policy Rate
South Asia2 days ago
The Indo-US bonhomie: A challenge to China in the IOR
Middle East2 days ago
Politics by Other Means: A Case Study of the 1991 Gulf War
Central Asia2 days ago
Russia’s ‘Great Game’ in Central Asia Amid the US Withdrawal from Afghanistan
Travel & Leisure2 days ago
Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City Reveals Five of the City’s Hidden Gems