East Africa: African Civil Society Groups Call for IGAD Response to Sudan Uprising

Protest in Sudan (file photo).

Dabanga — Thirteen civil society organisations have called for a strong response from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to the uprising in Sudan.

Among the organisations are the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), Human Rights Defenders-Kenya, Sudan Consortium, Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (South Sudan), Sudan Democracy First Group, and the Darfur Bar Association.

The IGAD is an eight-country trade bloc in Africa. It includes governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley and the African Great Lakes.

The organisations pointed to the "worrying escalation this week, President Bashir declared a year-long state of emergency, dissolved both the federal and regional governments, and appointed members of the military and security forces to regional governorships. These actions suggest that the authorities are preparing the groundwork for greater repression and impunity: as protests continued this week, new arrests of political figures and journalists who criticised the emergency declaration only underline this concern.

"Yet despite all this, Sudanese civilians and activists continue to call for democracy, good governance and human rights, values which IGAD has committed to promote. [...] Despite the negative consequences that failing to find a just and sustainable solution to the current situation could have for both IGAD's members and its mandate to safeguard peace and stability and to address prevent, manage and resolve of conflicts in the region, IGAD has said nothing."

The groups state that the size and longevity of the current protests represent a significant shift in that the Sudanese people are determined to achieve change and are unlikely to accept a return to the status quo.

"If international actors do not engage with the government of Sudan on these issues, the abuse of peaceful protesters and political activists is likely to simply continue. Worse yet, the situation could descend into widespread disorder, which would both negatively impact the potential for the government of Sudan to engage with regional political initiatives such as the IGAD initiative to facilitate the return of peace to South Sudan and create a raft of negative consequences for its neighbours."

The civil society groups call upon the authority to reject the proposal by the government of Sudan to take over as Chair of IGAD, as well as supporting Sudanese authorities to foster inclusive dialogue to ensure broad public engagement with in a program of peaceful transformation .

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