The Sudanese presidency issued a statement on Tuesday, March 26, saying the mandate of the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which ends in October 2020, would not be renewed. This was agreed in a phone call between the chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council and two senior US diplomats in which the withdrawal of the peacekeeping troops was discussed.
The chairman, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, spoke with assistant secretary for the US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs Tibor Nagy and US special envoy for Sudan Donald Booth, pushing for the United Nations and African Union to move away from peacekeeping efforts and towards state building. Nagy and Booth have not commented on the discussion.
This has been a consistent position held by the new Sudanese government that formed in the wake of the removal of dictator Omar al-Bashir. Sudanese prime minister Abdalla Hamdok sent letters to the United Nations Security Council in January and February requesting a special political mission under Chapter VI of the UN Charter that would cover the whole of the country, with an emphasis on continuing peace-building exercises in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, along with financial assistance, repatriation of displaced Sudanese, and integration of former rebel combatants into the Sudanese military.
Human Rights Watch has repeatedly warned of the dangers of a full UN withdrawal from Darfur
Hamdok’s decision has ignited heated discussion not only within Sudan but also among the international community. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly warned of the dangers of a full UN withdrawal from Darfur, saying that marginalized communities there cannot rely on Sudanese security alone for their protection. Earlier in May, a cohort of ninety-eight civil society groups, including activist organizations from Darfur, strongly urged the prime minister to maintain peacekeeping forces and extend the UNAMID mandate past October 2020.