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Strasbourg, 16 April 2019
Thank you Mr President.
The people of Sudan are asking for change. For four months now, they have demonstrated not only against the dramatic increase in the price of essential goods, but mainly and also for freedom, peace and justice.
The image of a Sudanese student – a girl standing in her white dress on the roof of a car, speaking to the crowd – has already become a symbol. She is now called “the Sudanese statue of liberty”. We, Europeans, want to support this aspiration to liberty. The Europeans want the people of Sudan to succeed. We want their call for liberty to be heard, and to translate into real change for a country that has already suffered too much.
Last week, the Sudanese military took over power and put [Omar] al-Bashir [former President of Sudan] under house arrest. As you all know, [Omar] al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court, and we have repeatedly asked to execute the arrest warrant.
The military leaders initially announced a 2-year transition, to be led by a Transitional Military Council composed of different strands of the security forces. This announcement was quickly rejected by both the protesters and the opposition parties. They asked for concrete guarantees of a much quicker civilian transition.
We have supported this request, indicating that the Military Council would not provide the right answers to the people’s demands, and requesting a swift handover to a civilian transitional government.
Over the last few days, the military establishment has tried to bridge the gap with a certain show of goodwill: the Head of the Transitional Military Council was changed, the Head of National Intelligence and Security Service resigned, and some political detainees were freed. These steps have signaled that there may be the space for a negotiation.
It is clear that, without a true transition, the crisis in Sudan is likely to continue. To prevent such scenario, there has to be a swift handover to a civilian transitional government, with real decision-making authority. This would open the way for a peaceful, credible and inclusive political process – to finally address the Sudanese people’s demand for political and economic reforms.
Our first priority must be to prevent further violence. We welcome the lifting of the curfew, established on the day of the coup, and we call on all parties to refrain from the use of force and any form of provocation. We also expect further confidence-building measures to be taken by the Transitional Military Council, such as the liberation of all remaining political detainees and the reform of the security sector. Security forces must be held accountable for the deaths and the abuses that have occurred in recent weeks and months.
These measures would help create the right environment for meaningful political negotiations, so that all parties – including the Transitional Military Council, the Sudanese Professionals Association and other political actors – can cooperate in good faith. It is also important that the opposition remains united at this critical moment.
Let me conclude by referring to the fact that in our statement and in our positions last week, we referred to the position taken by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki. Today I can only subscribe to the position taken yesterday by the African Union's Peace and Security Council.
The African Union has demanded the immediate handover of power to a civilian-led transitional authority, which should happen in the next 15 days. This transitional authority, once installed, should ensure an inclusive and consultative process, to agree on the exact modalities of the transition, towards free, fair and transparent elections.
Just like our African brothers and sisters, we want the transition to be managed by civilians. So we fully support the African Union’s demand and position on this issue, as on many others. As long as this is not the case, as long as the transition is not managed by civilians, the European Union will not recognise the legitimacy of the Transitional Military Council.
But, as soon as a civilian transition takes place, the European Union will be ready to accompany it, both politically and also economically.