Sudans Working Group: A Discussion with Mr. Bryan Hunt, Director, Office of South Sudan and Sudan, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State and Ms. Kholood Khair, Managing Partner of Insight Strategy Partners
The Wilson Center Africa Program’s Sudans Working Group met on March 23, 2022 for an off-the-record, virtual discussion with Mr. Bryan Hunt, Director, Office of South Sudan and Sudan, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State and Ms. Kholood Khair, Managing Partner of Insight Strategy Partners.
Twenty-two participants attended the meeting, including representatives from the U.S. and international governments, NGOs, think tanks, and academia.
Ms. Alyson Grunder, Senior Diplomatic Fellow with the Wilson Center Africa Program, moderated the discussion, which focused on the economic impact of Sudan's continued political and security crisis as well as the efforts of the Resistance Committees, Sudanese civil society actors, and the international community to promote democratic transition.
Mr. Hunt provided a briefing on the current phase and next steps in the ongoing facilitated dialogue process involving the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and the African Union (AU). Ms. Khair then offered her perspective on
the dynamics of the current impasse, speaking to both the challenges and opportunities for the way forward.
Participants discussed the need for broad representation of the numerous and diverse Sudanese stakeholders in the dialogue process, the current dire economic situation and the impact of the international community’s freezing of assistance and debt relief programs. The issues of ongoing human rights violations by security forces in response to increasing popular demonstrations and divisions not only between, but within stakeholder groups,
were also raised.
Participants spoke to the need for elections to be paired with other reforms in the areas of accountability, justice, and the security sector in order to prevent future conditions for coups, the importance of continued engagement by the international community with civil society groups and resistance committees, the pressing challenge of urban hunger, and the complications posed by the interests of external countries. Participants emphasized the importance of civilian agreement on process over policy agendas, noting that a lack of civilian policy unanimity is a healthy part of the democratic project.
Overall, the discussion reflected some areas for optimism in regards to the facilitated dialogue process, tempered by an understanding of the numerous and complex challenges on the road to democratic transition.
Senior Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State; former Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Monrovia, Liberia; former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, US Department of State
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