The meeting was opened by Mr. Miguel Berger, State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office for Germany, and by Dr. Omer Manis, Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Sudan. Dr. Hiba Mohamed Ali Ahmed, Acting Minister of Finance and Economic Planning for Sudan, also participated in the meeting. Following the opening, a discussion on the political transition, including the peace process, economic reforms and international support was chaired by Dr. Philipp Ackermann, Director General for Africa, Latin America, Near and Middle East in the Federal Foreign Office for Germany.
In addition to Germany and Sudan, representatives from the African Development Bank, the African Union, Canada, Egypt, the European Union, Ethiopia, France, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Italy, the League of Arab States, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the United States, and the World Bank participated in the meeting.
Participants reaffirmed their strong partnership with the Transitional Government of Sudan (TGoS), based on the guiding principles of mutual accountability and transparency as expressed in the Mutual Partnership Framework adopted on 7 May 2020 in Paris and confirmed at the Sudan Partnership Conference on 25 June 2020 in Berlin. They also reaffirmed the commitments made to support sustainable peace and democracy in line with the Partners for Sustainable Peace in Sudan Declaration adopted on 12 August 2020 in Riyadh.
The Friends of Sudan reiterated their full support to the political and economic transition in Sudan led by the TGoS under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Abdalla Hamdok and reaffirmed their commitment to assisting Sudan on its path towards a free, peaceful, just, inclusive and prosperous future.
Political and Peace Process
The Friends of Sudan received an update from TGoS on the political process, including progress in the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) of 3 October 2020. Participants acknowledged the progress achieved so far in the political process, and in improving human rights in Sudan. They welcomed the agreement as a historic milestone towards comprehensive and sustainable peace in Sudan. They further acknowledged the role of the Government of South Sudan in successfully facilitating the negotiations. Participants voiced concern about the inter-communal violence that erupted recently in West and South Darfur and called upon the government to continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the protection of civilians. They stressed the importance of the full implementation of the National Plan on the Protection of Civilians (NPC) in order to ensure a conducive environment for durable peace and stability in Darfur. In this regard, the partners’ support is crucial.
Participants emphasized the importance of respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of all people of Sudan, of providing security and establishing the rule of law, of ensuring wealth-sharing and facilitating development in all regions and of ensuring meaningful representation of all Sudanese people in the political process and institutions, including of women and youth, in line with the Constitutional Document and the JPA. Participants commended the TGoS for all efforts being undertaken in this regard, noted the reaction of the TGoS to recent incidents of severe inter-communal violence in Darfur and underlined the importance of dedicating efforts and allocating resources to address and manage this challenge.
Participants encouraged the signatories of the JPA to ensure swift implementation of the agreement, and to avoid further delay with regard to establishing the Government, the Transitional Legislative Council and the preparations for a Constitutional Conference. Participants urged the remaining groups which are not yet part of the peace agreement to assent to the peace process with the TGoS and emphasized the need to conduct negotiations constructively and without preconditions, and in the interest of achieving sustainable peace in Sudan.
The Friends of Sudan expressed their commitment to continue supporting the start-up of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), including through the new peacebuilding and stabilization window of the Sudan Financing Platform Trust Fund. They welcomed the recent appointment of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan and Head of UNITAMS. They explored potential financial and other technical contributions towards a coordinated and coherent approach to Sudan’s peacebuilding efforts with the support of UNITAMS and the UN Country Team, and stressed the need for concrete peace dividends, including on livelihoods, rural development, durable solutions, access to energy and reconciliation. They called on the Sudanese authorities to facilitate the work of the new Mission, now that the United Nations Hybrid Mission for Darfur (UNAMID) has closed.
Participants also expressed their concern about recent tensions in the border region between Ethiopia and Sudan. They called upon all sides concerned to enter into a constructive dialogue in order to de-escalate the situation and to seek a resolution to the situation through peaceful means. The Friends commended Sudan for hosting Ethiopian refugees, and reassured the TGoS of their continued support, including through the provision of humanitarian assistance.
Economic developments and international support
The Friends of Sudan welcomed the update from the TGoS on the economic reform process, especially the implementation of the IMF Staff-Monitored Program (SMP) and the preparations to roll out the Sudan Family Support Programme. They acknowledged the significant progress achieved in moving the economic reform agenda forward despite additional challenges posed by the floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants encouraged the TGoS to continue working closely with the IMF, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank to keep the SMP on track, and to finalize the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.
The Friends of Sudan welcomed the removal of Sudan from the United States State Sponsors of Terrorism List on 14 December 2020 as another important milestone in Sudan’s transition process. Participants highlighted that the delisting has opened the door for economic recovery, working towards a debt relief process under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and attracting foreign investment. In this regard, some members emphasized the need to enhance transparency, combat corruption, streamline regulations, and improve public financial governance to foster private sector engagement.
The Friends of Sudan welcomed the commitment by the TGoS to swiftly implement further reform steps that promote business. They encouraged the TGoS to further reorient expenditure towards social sectors and improve revenue collection and stressed the urgent need to tackle exchange rate reform without further delay, as a prerequisite for Sudan’s performance under the SMP to remain on track, fully benefit from the support offered by partners and international financial institutions, such as through the aforementioned Sudan Family Support Programme, promote business, and encourage investments in Sudan.
During the discussion, the Friends welcomed ongoing preparations by multilateral institutions and partners / donors for debt relief and expressed their readiness to assist Sudan in the HIPC process. The members thanked the United States for agreeing to provide a bridge loan to clear Sudan’s arrears to the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank and thanked the United Kingdom for offering to extend a bridge loan to clear Sudan’s arrears to the African Development Bank, recognizing that both loans and debt relief under HIPC are contingent on meeting agreed reform commitments. Members also recognized the need to support arrears clearance at the IMF. The Friends of Sudan also emphasized the need for a broad coalition within the international community to address Sudan’s external debt and encouraged the TGoS to reach out to the Paris Club and other international partners, in order to secure the required data and ensure transparency regarding the debt situation.
A number of participants provided updates on the disbursement of their financial contributions made at the Sudan Partnership Conference, while several participants indicated further planned engagement. The group emphasized the importance of donor coordination under the leadership of the TGoS and underlined the role of UNITAMS in supporting the government in this regard.
At the conclusion of the meeting, participants reiterated their solidarity with the Sudanese people and willingness to continue supporting the TGoS, and reaffirmed their engagement in support of a successful transition and economic recovery. France will host a high-level Partnership Conference on 17 May 2021.