Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto Will Travel to Africa on the Behalf of EU to Support Sudan’s Attempt to Become a Democracy
Pekka Haavisto (the Green League). Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Pekka Haavisto, the minister for foreign affairs of Finland, will visit Sudan and several countries of the Red Sea and broader region over the course of the next weeks to discuss the situation in Sudan.
The ousting of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in a coup in April, which ended his three-decade reign of kleptocracy and terror, left the northeast African country of about 41 million people in a turmoil with a military rule where protesters took it to the streets demanding a civilian leadership instead of a military one until future elections.
Then after months of protests, a military crackdown in early June left behind masses of dead protesters and their bodies floating in the Nile.
In early July, Sudan’s military and civilian leaders announced that they had reached an agreement to share power until elections, promising an end to the standoff. The power would shift between military and civilian leadership for the following three years.
Minister Haavisto has received a mandate from Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign policy chief, to reach out, on behalf of the European Union, on both the situation in the country and on how the international community can accompany Sudan on its transition path.
Thanks to his experience in the region, in particular in Sudan with both the EU and the UN, Minister Haavisto will explore how the EU can best support Sudan in its path towards democracy, respect for human rights and stability.
Minister Haavisto has extensive knowledge on Sudan because of his role as the EU special representative for Sudan and Darfur (a region in western Sudan) in 2005-2007 as well as the special advisor for the UN assistant secretary-general in Darfur peace process in 2007. (The peace process refers to the Darfur Peace Agreement, which was signed by the Sudanese government and Darfur-based rebel groups with the intention of ending the War in Darfur, which has according to the UN figures left 300,000 people dead.)
Haavisto’s visit to Sudan as well as Ethiopia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates follows the recent announcement of an agreement between the Transitional Military Council and the Forces for Freedom and Change on a civilian-led transition in Sudan.
“The European Union remains fully engaged on the situation in Sudan, standing by the Sudanese parties who reached an agreement as well as calling on regional and international actors to play a constructive role in this context,” Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
“Thanks to his experience in the region, in particular in Sudan with both the EU and the UN, Minister Haavisto will explore how the EU can best support Sudan in its path towards democracy, respect for human rights and stability,” she continued.
According to Haavisto, the “visit comes at an important juncture; an agreement has been reached between the Transitional Military Council and the Forces for Freedom and Change in Sudan.”
“I wish to sincerely thank the African Union/Ethiopian mediation for their efforts. I will convey EU’s strong messages of support and encourage both sides to continue negotiations in order to solve the still outstanding issues and allow for a swift transfer of power to a civilian government. It is crucial to quickly restore peace, guarantee prosperity, economic recovery, security, democracy and respect of human rights,” Haavisto said in a statement.
On July 10, Haavisto will be in Addis Abeba meeting Ethiopian authorities as well as the key figures of the African Union.
On the following day, he will meet both the Transitional Military Council and the Forces for Freedom and Change as well as other Sudanese negotiatiors.
On July 16-18, Haavisto will visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.