Speech/statement | Date: 11/12/2019 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By Former State Secretary Marianne Hagen (Khartoum, 11 December)
Opening statement by state secretary Marianne Hagen at the Friends of Sudan-meeting in Khartoum 11 December.
Your Excellency, Prime Minister of the Sudan,
Your Excellency, Minister of Finance,
Excellences, Ambassadors, Dear Friends of Sudan,
It is a great honor for Norway and for me personally to chair this meeting. For the first time the Friends of Sudan meet in Khartoum and for the first time the transitional Government is co-hosting the meeting. This is clear evidence that the international community is supporting the civilian-led transitional Government, not only with words but also with deeds.
Our purpose today is to continue our dialogue on how we can work together to support the civilian-led government in meeting the aspirations of the revolution: freedom, peace and justice. It is an ambitious agenda. While we may find the challenges ahead quite daunting, we should remember that the people of the Sudan has set an example. Through their losses, their willingness to sacrifice and through their commitment to lasting change. Now it is our turn to contribute to their struggle.
I believe we all admired the special features of the revolution: the non-violent and creative nature of the protests; the prominent role played by women and youth; the commitment to values that form the bedrock of Sudanese society: equality for all citizens, human rights, political pluralism, the rule of law and freedom of speech. These values resonate throughout the world.
The transitional government has already made significant achievements in three months. Prime Minister Hamdok and his government has initiated comprehensive reforms of the public sector. A broad review of existing legislation is also underway. The government has already contributed to combating corruption. The Prime Minister has strengthened Sudan’s relations to neighbouring countries and the international community. The appointment of the Sudan as the new Chair of IGAD is a clear recognition by the countries in the region, of the positive changes that have taken place in Sudan in the last year. Allow me to congratulate the Sudan on this important achievement.
Prime Minister Hamdok has also succeeded in opening a very constructive dialogue with the U.S. government on delisting Sudan from the List of States Sponsoring Terrorism.
We have heard many times that the Sovereign Council and the Cabinet work well together. This is very good. Yet, until the establishment of the Transitional Legislative Council, the democratic nature of the transitional arrangement is not complete. Until elections, no other body can better reflect the democratic nature of the revolution. The Transitional Legislative Council will be responsible for oversight over the executive’s performance. The formation of the Transitional Legislative Council and the appointment of civilian governors by the end of December 2019 would be yet another important achievement for the Government. I want to emphasise that a successful transition requires that all authorities remain loyal to the democratic principles of the revolution and the Constitutional Declaration.
Today, the Friends of Sudan and the Government of the Sudan will discuss key political and economic issues, such as the peace process, the constitutional declaration and economic recovery.
Our meeting today is an opportunity to take stock in terms of the main objectives of the Constitutional declaration; preparations for free and fair elections, addressing good governance issues, preparing the new constitution, as well as, formulating the basis for sustainable development, for the benefit of all Sudanese. We should not lose sight of these long-term goals, even if immediate challenges consume most of our attention.
The Prime Minister has made peace the number one priority. The Friends of Sudan will continue supporting the transitional Government’s efforts for peace. Progress in the peace talks is an essential element in a successful transition. It will also have a positive spill over effect in the region and in all the seven neighbouring countries of the Sudan.
Yesterday, a new round of peace talks started in Juba. It is our sincere hope that all interested stakeholders will join these talks and show a renewed spirit of cooperation, pragmatism and realism. It is vital that all parties demonstrate the required political will, by working together and engaging constructively in talks.
Norway has been involved in several peace and reconciliation processes. From experience, we know that the best guarantee for sustainable peace is including women and youth in a meaningful way at all stages of a peace process. Therefore, we call on all parties to adhere to Security Council Resolution 1325 on women peace and security and Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.
The second critical objective for the transitional Government is the revival of the economy. I am not an economist, but as a member of an elected government, I know that sustainable growth should be inclusive. Therefore, it is interesting that the government wants to use the sustainable development goals as the framework for the budget for 2020. Transparency and accountability is of fundamental importance in a modern economy. Sudan has to rely more and more on its own rich resources – aid is a stop-gap measure and not a lasting solution. Therefore, revenue management and internal resource mobilization must be key priorities. Private sector development is critical. The tax basis has to be broadened, and the parallel economy that was allowed to thrive in the previous regime must be brought into the mainstream of the economy.
Dear Friends of Sudan,
Norway commends the transitional Government’s commitment to allow unrestricted access for humanitarian aid to all war affected areas, cross boarder and cross line. This is a major achievement and an important confidence-building measure in relation to the peace negotiations. We call upon humanitarian actors to seize this opportunity to deliver assistance to all areas, including areas affected by conflict. Further, there is a clear need to address the root causes of conflicts and grievances and building the bridge between humanitarian needs and sustainable development.
Norway is a consistent partner to the people of the Sudan. Now we look forward to open a new chapter in our relationship. We are exploring the scope for expanding programmes with regard to food security, natural resource management, climate change and youth employment. A new area of collaboration may be in domestic revenue collection and management, within the framework of our ‘Tax for Development Programme’.
Moreover, I want to mention that the Sudan succeeded Norway as Chair of the Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (the Mine Convention). We are happy to share our experiences in this important area. One concrete possibility is to work on a national mine action plan for the Sudan.
I am confident that the Friends of Sudan see many new opportunities to support the transition in the Sudan. As we go forward, we need to be coordinated and useful, and be mindful of the government’s ownership.
In conclusion, let me raise an issue close to my heart: The fair and well deserved participation of women in the transition: Two women in the Sovereign Council, four female members of the Cabinet, the first female Minister of Foreign Affairs and first female Chief Justice. These are significant achievements. This is only a beginning. If you continue to appoint women in key positions throughout the transition period, they will make a difference by bringing new perspectives and priorities. With meaningful participation of women, I can guarantee that peace will be more sustainable, education and health will be prioritized and economic growth will be strengthened.
Colleagues and Friends, Your Excellency Prime Minister, Ambassadors and Excellences,
It is Norway’s hope that this meeting will contribute towards forging the kind of strategic partnership Sudan needs, to mobilize the resources necessary for funding Sudan's priorities in the transitional period and to support the people's legitimate aspiration for freedom, peace and justice.