Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (103)

Ruth Coppinger


103. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on representations he has made regarding the political and military situation in Sudan; if he has discussed the situation in Sudan with his European Union colleagues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37570/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The recent political events in Sudan followed many months of demonstrations, which began in December 2018 and were led by a diverse coalition of groups known as the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC). Demonstrations were triggered initially by spiralling costs of living and quickly developed into calls for ex-President al Bashir’s resignation, after 30 years in power. Control was seized by the military who dissolved the Government and announced a takeover by the Transitional Military Council (TMC).

Ireland continues to engage with our EU partners to ensure a strong and unified EU position on the situation in Sudan.  On 17 June the Foreign Affairs Council discussed how the EU could best support a peaceful transition to a civilian-led transitional Government in Sudan.  As EU, we urged all regional and international actors to play a constructive and coordinated role in support of the African Union.  We also strongly condemned the violence against protestors, including sexual and gender-based violence.  

Following several months of negotiations, which took place against a backdrop of ongoing demonstrations and violence against protesters, on 17 August the military and the opposition signed an agreement to establish a transitional Government in Sudan. The EU remains fully engaged in the situation in Sudan, and as an expression of strong political support, the EU along with a number of other international partners, signed the agreement as a witness. The EU welcomed the agreement as an important milestone and called on all parties to implement it in good faith.  

The Tánaiste also warmly welcomed the signing of that agreement. He acknowledged the prominent role played by women and youth in the protests, and commended the strong engagement of the African Union and Ethiopia in mediating the talks. Together with our EU partners, Ireland will support a civilian-led political transition, which we hope will pave the way for peace, security and economic growth in Sudan.

Ireland further welcomes the recent establishment of the new civilian-led transitional Government in Sudan, including the appointment of a civilian Prime Minister and the inclusion of four women in the new cabinet. It is also very positive that the African Union has recently lifted the suspension on Sudan.

Sudan’s current economic outlook is of pressing concern. Significant financial support will be required from the international community and the EU has committed to assisting Sudan in this regard.

Since the crisis first erupted, senior officials from my Department have met with the Sudanese Ambassador to Ireland on a number of occasions to express Ireland’s concerns at the political situation, most recently on 15 July. My officials have also met with members of the Sudanese community in Ireland to listen to their concerns and views on the current situation.  

Ireland also took the opportunity at the 41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council in July to voice our concerns about the current human rights situation in Sudan. We particularly welcomed the inclusion in the agreement of a commitment to establish an independent and transparent investigation into the violent crackdown against protestors in Khartoum on 3 June.  

My officials visited Khartoum in April, as part of Ireland's role in chairing the OCHA donor support group (the UN’s humanitarian coordination agency), and met with many stakeholders, including representatives of the Sudanese Foreign Ministry.   Officials took the opportunity to raise concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country and the need for the timely delivery of principled humanitarian assistance and protection. Ireland continues to respond to ongoing humanitarian needs in Sudan through the provision of humanitarian funding, with almost €30 million provided through our UN, NGO and Red Cross partners since 2012, including over €3.5 million since the beginning of 2019. 

As events evolve, my officials continue to actively monitor developments in Sudan, through Ireland’s Embassy in Nairobi, and in cooperation with the EU Delegation in Khartoum.