Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Questions (67, 68, 78, 81)

Seán Crowe

Question:

67. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to recent events (details supplied) in Sudan; his views on violent attacks on peaceful protesters and reports of rape and sexual assaults; and if he has raised condemnation of these killings and attacks with the Sudanese Government. [25099/19]

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Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

68. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the conversations he has had with the Sudanese ambassador to Ireland in view of the recent events in Sudan that have seen hundreds killed and injured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25227/19]

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Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

78. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has discussed the recent unrest in Sudan that has seen at least 100 killed and hundreds more injured with his counterparts across the EU; the actions the EU plans to take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25225/19]

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Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

81. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has discussed the recent events in Sudan with his counterparts in Europe. [25212/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67, 68, 78 and 81 together.

The recent political events and violence against protestors in Sudan follows over six months of demonstrations, triggered initially by spiralling costs of living.

On 11 April, it was announced that President Omar al-Bashir had been removed from power and that a Transitional Military Council (TMC) had assumed control in Sudan. The Transitional Military Council announced its intention to govern for a two-year period after which there would be Presidential elections: in the meantime, Sudan's Constitution was suspended, Parliament dissolved, and a three-month state of emergency was declared.

Demonstrators, while welcoming the removal of President al-Bashir, continued to demand a civilian-led Government. On 15 May, following extensive negotiations, an agreement in principle was announced for a three-year transition period. However, final agreement regarding a civilian majority on a proposed 11-member Supreme Council was opposed by the Transitional Military Council, and negotiations stalled.

Shortly after dawn on 3 June, heavily armed security forces surrounded demonstrators and shot indiscriminately with live bullets and teargas resulting in significant loss of life. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), formed from the remnants of the Janjaweed militia and accused of committing war crimes in Darfur, with elements from police and national intelligence are believed to be responsible for these attacks.

The same day, the TMC announced that it was cancelling all agreements with the opposition and that elections would be held within nine months. Demonstrators demand a longer period to guarantee fair elections.

That evening, EU High Representative Mogherini issued a statement declaring that there can be no justification for the use of force to disperse peaceful protests, and that the Transitional Military Council is accountable for security and rule of law in the country. I also issued a statement strongly condemning the use of violence and excessive force against protestors. It is imperative that all violations against protestors, including widespread reports of sexual and gender-based violence, are independently investigated and the perpetrators held accountable.

On 6 June, the African Union decided with immediate effect to suspend Sudan from participation in all African Union activities until the effective establishment of a civilian-led transitional authority. This followed sustained, but ultimately unsuccessful, engagement with the Transitional Military Council to encourage them to restore constitutional order. The African Union has demonstrated robust and principled leadership in responding to the crisis.

On Tuesday 11 June, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the violence in Sudan and called on the Transitional Military Council and the opposition to work towards a solution to the crisis. The Council called for an immediate end to the violence against civilians and emphasised the importance of upholding human rights.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council met on 17 June and Ministers discussed how the EU can support the establishment of a credible political process in Sudan that will facilitate a peaceful transition to civilian-led transitional Government. An EU-28 statement issued following the meeting, which strongly condemned the recent violence against protestors including sexual and gender-based violence. It also expressed EU support for the African Union which has taken a principled and robust stance to the crisis.

My officials continue to actively monitor developments in Sudan, through the Embassy of Ireland in Nairobi, and through the European Union delegation in Khartoum. Senior officials from my Department also met with the Sudanese Ambassador to Ireland earlier this year to discuss the situation. Ireland continues to respond to on-going humanitarian needs through the provision of humanitarian funding, with over €29 million provided through our UN, NGO and Red Cross partners since 2012.