UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Thursday urged Sudan’s government to swiftly form a Transitional Legislative Council and implement security measures and other provisions in October’s peace agreement.
It said that is needed so the Sudanese people can have “a peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous future.”
A resolution adopted unanimously by the council also urged signatories to the peace deal to address the root causes of conflict in the vast western Darfur region and two other areas, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. It called on rebel groups in Darfur that have forces in neighboring countries to continue to withdraw them.
The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. The government in Khartoum was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and unleashing them on civilian populations — a charge it denies.
A joint U.N.-African Union force in Darfur was established in 2007 but terminated by the Security Council on Dec. 31. The force was replaced with a much smaller and solely political mission, whose mandate was extended by the resolution approved Thursday until June 3, 2022.
Sudan’s military ousted autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 following mass pro-democracy protests, and a transitional military-civilian government has ruled the African nations since then. The country is now on a fragile path to democracy, and on Feb. 10 a new Cabinet was sworn in that includes rebel ministers as part of the power-sharing deal the transitional authorities and a rebel alliance struck in Juba on Oct. 3.
The Security Council welcomed the March 28 signing by the government and Sudan’s largest single rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement-North, of a declaration of principles detailing a roadmap for talks. It urged both sides “to engage constructively to swiftly finalize a comprehensive and inclusive peace agreement.” A new round of talks began May 26.
The Security Council urged armed groups that haven’t engaged in peace negotiations “to do so immediately, constructively and without pre-condition.” One major rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Army in the restive Darfur region rejects the transitional government and has refused to take part in talks.
The council recognized improvements in security conditions in some areas of Darfur but expressed concern that the security situation in other areas “has deteriorated as a result of increased intercommunal violence.” It underscored the need “to intensify peacebuilding efforts in Darfur, avoid a relapse into conflict” and mitigate risks to civilians posed by intercommunal violence, misuse of small arms, and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
The resolution stressed the need for the government to ensure accountability for those violations including conflict-related sexual violence and “grave violations against children.”
It called on the government to accelerate establishment of the Transitional Legislative Council and to meet the 40% quota for women’s participation. It welcomed the April 24 adoption of bills approving a Peace Commission and a Transitional Justice Commission and called on the government to swiftly establish them so they can start operating.
The Security Council ordered the U.N. mission over the next year to give priority to supporting cease-fire monitoring in Darfur and implementation of the government’s civilian protection plan that includes preventing local conflicts, reconciliation efforts, disarmament and reducing intercommunal violence.
It said the mission should also prioritize support to negotiations between the government and armed groups, drafting a new constitution, judicial reforms, and implementing the peace agreement’s power-sharing provisions, including facilitating the participation of civil society, women, youth, displaced people, refugees and members of marginalized communities.