Full text 
Verbatim report of proceedings
Tuesday, 16 April 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

16. Situation in Sudan (debate)
Video of the speeches

  Przewodniczący. – Kolejnym punktem porządku dziennego jest oświadczenie wiceprzewodniczącej Komisji / wysokiej przedstawiciel Unii Europejskiej do spraw zagranicznych i polityki bezpieczeństwa Federiki Mogherini w sprawie sytuacji w Sudanie (2019/2703(RSP))


  Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – 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 a white dress on the roof of a car, speaking to the crowd – has already become a symbol. She’s now called the Sudanese Statue of Liberty, and 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 under house arrest. As you all know, 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 two-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 a concrete guarantee of a much quicker civilian transition. We have supported this request, indicating that a 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 signalled that there may be space for a negotiation. It is clear that, without a true transition, the crisis in Sudan is likely to continue. To prevent such a 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 a 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, 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, and 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. And, just like our African brothers and sisters, we want the transition to be managed by civilians. So we fully support the African Union 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.


  Joachim Zeller, im Namen der PPE-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident! Wieder ist Afrika in Bewegung geraten. In Algerien und im Sudan haben die Menschen in friedlichen Protesten und mit großem Mut das vorher fast unmöglich Scheinende geschafft: Sie haben zwei Diktatoren zum Rücktritt gezwungen. Doch die Menschen wollen mehr: Sie wollen eine freie, auf demokratischen Prinzipien aufgebaute Gesellschaft. Jeder weiß, wie schwierig es ist, nach jahrzehntelanger Gewaltherrschaft und Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit im eigenen Land das zu erreichen. Und noch ist die Lage im Sudan sehr fragil. Keiner weiß, ob die im Land herrschenden militärischen Strukturen den Weg zu einer zivilen Regierung freigeben werden.

Die EU ist gefordert, aus der Vergangenheit zu lernen. Wir brauchen eine einheitliche, kohärente Haltung aller Mitgliedstaaten unter Vorsitz der Hohen Vertreterin zum Sudan, um in Zusammenarbeit mit der Afrikanischen Union die zivilen Kräfte im Sudan zu unterstützen, damit aus dem Sudan kein zweites Libyen wird. Als erstes sind die politischen Gefangenen freizulassen, und darüber hinaus sind den bisher unterdrückten Minderheiten Autonomierechte zu gewähren.


  Enrique Guerrero Salom, en nombre del Grupo S&D. – Señor presidente, señora alta representante, estamos ante una expectativa de cambio. Cambio ampliamente demandado por la población de Sudán, protagonizado fundamentalmente por las mujeres y por algunos sectores de la sociedad que representan la capacidad de ese país para progresar.

Pero esta situación de treinta años de Gobierno autoritario se sobrepone a una situación de crisis humanitaria de primera dimensión. En torno a siete millones de personas están en riesgo de hambre severa en el país. Hay cerca de dos millones de desplazados internos y hay más de un millón de refugiados procedentes de países vecinos. Todo ello en un contexto donde Eritrea, Etiopía, Sudán del Sur, Somalia y Yibuti conforman probablemente la crisis humanitaria más importante del mundo.

Un conjunto de en torno a veinte millones de personas en extrema necesidad. Y es a esa población a la que tenemos que dar respuesta a través de la ayuda humanitaria, pero sobre todo apoyando la consecución de un régimen estable y la consecución de la paz.

Por tanto, apoyo desde mi grupo la posición manifestada por la Comisión —o por la alta representante— de apoyar una transición civil, de no reconocer un Gobierno militar, de seguir empujando a Bashir a la Corte Penal Internacional y de pedir el fin de la represión a doctores, a médicos y a elementos fundamentales para luchar contra la crisis humanitaria.


  Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, the youth of Sudan is the population of Sudan, with an average age of 19 years old, and the youth raise their voices, with a clear role for female leaders like Alaa Salah, whose image you referenced. They managed what the international community did not see through: the ousting of Omar al—Bashir, a dictator sought by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity – crimes against the Sudanese people.

Let the events in Sudan be reminders of: one, the fact that repression cannot outlast calls for liberty and an end to corruption and injustice; two, that dealing with dictators in the EU’s short—term self—interest for, for example, managing migration, is a bad gamble against the young people of North Africa and the African continent; and three, that transitions are both very hopeful but also very hard. With institutions, democratic movements, civil society and other efforts crushed, state resources systematically robbed at the cost of education to sustain the security apparatus. So to avoid a repetition of the so—called Libya scenario, we should invest in democracy and peace and prevent the militia but also the military from taking the space left open and recruiting desperate youngsters. As one of the demonstrators, Salma Ali, said to The New York Times: we’ve cut off the head but the body is still alive.

As this is my last debate with you, Madam High Representative, I wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done. I think we need a stronger Europe in the world more today than we did five years ago, and I wish you all the best.


  Marie-Christine Vergiat, au nom du groupe GUE/NGL. – Monsieur le Président, j’ai beaucoup hésité avant de savoir ce que je pouvais, ce que je devais dire dans ce débat que la Gauche unitaire européenne a demandé pour soutenir le peuple soudanais et exprimer notre solidarité, notamment vis-à-vis de ces milliers de femmes soudanaises qui manifestent pacifiquement, sans répit depuis le 19 décembre, malgré la répression, les dizaines de morts, les centaines de blessés et les milliers d’arrestations.

J’ai souvent eu l’occasion, vous le savez, Madame la Haute représentante, de dénoncer ici les relations de l’Union européenne avec la dictature d’Omar el-Béchir. Mais il n’est plus temps de juger le passé, ou il est trop tôt pour le faire. Il doit être question d’avenir et pour cela l’Union européenne doit, au-delà de la demande d’un gouvernement civil, mettre tout son poids, comme l’Union africaine et la troïka, pour aller vers un nouveau gouvernement transitoire. Non, le gouvernement militaire actuel ne peut pas être reconnu – seuls la Russie, les Saoudiens et les Émiratis l’ont fait. Son numéro un est et a été le responsable des forces soudanaises au Yémen, et le numéro deux est celui des Forces rapides, les ancien Janjawids. Ils doivent être jugés comme Omar el-Béchir et tous les responsables de crimes contre l’humanité dans ce pays.

Nous pouvons, vous pouvez les aider. Vous pouvez aider le peuple soudanais dans sa demande de réel changement de régime, pour que cela ne reste pas une révolution de palais. Il y va vraiment de la stabilité dans la région.


  Neena Gill (S&D). – Mr President, High Representative, we’ve heard already Sudan has experienced massive changes in the last weeks: Al-Bashir ousted after 30 years; temporary military leader installed and no free media; food prices beyond the reach of many; political opposition blocked for years; and to top it all, the second-highest inflation in the world. However, the people, and especially the women, of Sudan are resilient and have aspirations and are hankering after real change. They rightly have reservations about the military regime and want to have a transition towards proper civilian government, following free, fair and transparent elections. The EU and this House should show solidarity with peaceful demonstrations, and we should have concerns about two years’ length of transitional military council and need to work quickly to ensure that impartial media are set up and restrictions on internet are lifted. High Representative, I welcome your statement that only credible and inclusive political process can meet the aspirations of Sudanese and lead to political and economic reforms the country needs. But my questions to you are: what mechanisms and alliances are you proposing to move democracy on in the short term, and also, will the EEAS examine closely the financial flows towards Sudan, as the US did when it fined the French-backed BNP Paribas USD 9 billion for violating US sanctions against Sudan? And can you confirm that the arms exports towards Sudan from the EU are still prohibited and this prohibition is fully respected?


Zgłoszenia z sali


  Νότης Μαριάς (ECR). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, έχουμε συζητήσει επανειλημμένα για το Σουδάν. Το τελευταίο διάστημα, οι πάντες είχαν καταγγείλει την πολιτική του al-Bashir και είχαν ζητήσει να λάβει μέτρα η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση προκειμένου να σταματήσει αυτή η κατάσταση, να σταματήσει η καταπίεση των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων και να δοθεί ελευθερία στο Σουδάν. Τελικά, όπως συμβαίνει πάντοτε, ο ίδιος ο λαός έδωσε τη λύση. Έτσι, με τις διαδηλώσεις κατάφερε καταρχάς να ανατρέψει τον al-Bashir. Όμως, οι δυνάμεις του καθεστώτος και κάποιοι άλλοι παραμένουν στην εξουσία, μια και έχει επιβληθεί στρατιωτικός νόμος. Αυτή η στρατιωτική κυβέρνηση είναι δεδομένο ότι δεν μπορεί να περάσει στη δημοκρατική μετάβαση και είναι βέβαιο ότι δεν μπορεί να παραμείνει. Γι’ αυτό και πιστεύω ότι πρέπει να ασκηθεί μέγιστη πίεση από πλευράς Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης, ούτως ώστε να οργανωθούν δημοκρατικές εκλογές, να μπορέσουν να λυθούν τα μεγάλα πολιτικά προβλήματα στο Σουδάν και, κατ’ επέκταση, τα τεράστια κοινωνικά προβλήματα στη χώρα, αλλά και τα ευρύτερα προβλήματα ανθρωπιστικής κρίσης στην περιοχή.


  Fabio Massimo Castaldo (EFDD). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, dopo trent'anni il Sudan si appresta a voltare pagina, l'impossibile diventa finalmente possibile. Omar al-Bashir, il presidente dittatore ricercato per anni per il genocidio in Darfur è stato finalmente destituito l'11 aprile scorso, ma la caduta del generale avvenuta per mano dell'esercito non ha fermato la mobilitazione popolare.

Troppo forte il senso di beffa dei manifestanti di fronte alla formazione di un esecutivo militare, seppur provvisorio. Troppo grande la paura di ripiombare sotto le grinfie di un regime dispotico come quello di al-Bashir. Le proteste continuano e non si fermeranno, fintantoché non verranno soddisfatte le richieste più che legittime dell'opposizione: transizione immediata a un governo civile, giustizia per i manifestanti uccisi dalla polizia e soprattutto consegna e processo di tutti i leader dell'ex regime per un completo sradicamento del "deep state" di Bashir.

Alla luce di questi eventi, plaudo quindi all'approccio dell'Alto rappresentante. Solo un processo credibile e inclusivo può andare incontro alle aspirazioni del popolo sudanese e realizzare quelle riforme di cui il paese ha bisogno, ma per innescare questo processo è necessario un trasferimento immediato del potere a un governo civile. L'Europa deve garantire che questo passaggio avvenga in modo pacifico, con tutto il nostro peso politico ed economico. Non possiamo permettere che si riconosca un governo militare. Non possiamo permettere che si versi ancora altro sangue innocente.


  Paul Rübig (PPE). – Herr Präsident! Ich glaube, im Sudan ist es vor allem wichtig, dass wir uns um die Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung kümmern, besonders um das Ziel Nummer 2 – Sichere und nachhaltige Ernährung – und das Ziel Nummer 6 – Sauberes Wasser und Abwasser. Viele Krankheiten könnten wir bekämpfen, indem wir hier Strategien entwickeln und InvestEU hier so schnell wie möglich anwenden und natürlich auch das Ziel Nummer 7, nämlich erneuerbare Energie. Wenn wir das in den ländlichen Räumen gemeinsam mit den kleinen und mittleren Betrieben verbinden, dann hätten wir viel erreicht, und ich glaube, das könnte eine Zukunft geben, die auch dem Sudan Stabilität wie in Europa ermöglichen könnte.


(Koniec zgłoszeń z sali)


  Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Mr President, I would like to thank all colleagues for their very clear support for the position we have taken in the work we are doing. I would maybe answer a specific question that was raised about what kind of strategy and what kind of alliances we plan to put in place. We are already building to try and achieve this transition towards a civilian government and free, fair and democratic elections. As I said in my opening remarks, as always whenever our positions converge – which happens often – our first interlocutor here is the African Union. I refer to the very clear position that the African Union has taken in these days, which I believe has been extremely important, also considering what some other colleagues were mentioning: the fact that these changes in Sudan are part of a bigger shift, that is a mix of hope and challenges in the broader region around the Horn of Africa, with some winds of change that are blowing also in other countries. By that, I mean the opportunities that the opening of talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea is bringing, but also the very severe challenges both from a security perspective and from a humanitarian perspective that the region is still facing.

Our role, I think, with the full support of this House – and I know I can speak here for the Commission but also for the Council – is that of accompanying this democratic transition, bringing it hopefully to a civilian outcome, and working hand—in—hand with the African Union and the countries in the region to try and make sure that this happens and that, in particular, the women and the young people of Sudan find their aspirations met in this transition. But, as with all transitions, it is difficult; there are some opportunities, but also some risks and some challenges.

I would also personally like to thank the colleagues that have taken the opportunity in their last interventions in this last part-session of the plenary to thank me, and I want also to reciprocate and say that it has been a pleasure for me to work with this Parliament, and in particular with those colleagues that are most involved in foreign and security policy issues. I will be with you until Thursday, until the votes at the very last sitting, so I guess that we will have other opportunities to say goodbye and thank each other for the good cooperation we have had during these five years.



  Przewodniczący. – Zamykam debatę.

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