Sudan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:41 am on 13th June 2019.

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Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development) 10:41 am, 13th June 2019

I start by putting on the record my gratitude to my hon. Friend for his tireless advocacy on behalf of the people of Sudan, for his involvement in the all-party group on Sudan and South Sudan, and for the way he posed his question. He is absolutely right that we should also pay tribute to the tireless work of Her Majesty’s Ambassador Irfan Siddiq and his team in the embassy in Khartoum. They have been working relentlessly in very difficult conditions to put forward the view of Her Majesty’s Government, which is that we need to find a way of taking the inspiring activism that led to the removal of former President Bashir a few months ago, and moving forward in line with the aspirations of the Sudanese people towards civilian-led government.

My hon. Friend rightly pointed out the importance of a range of external actors and of our work with US and Norway in the troika. We are one of a group of countries that consider themselves friends of Sudan and want to play a constructive role in moving forward in this transition, which even the Forces of Freedom and Change recognise will have to be a protracted one, given that the country is coming out of a long period of direct rule by Bashir, and that the institutions and structures that we take for granted in our country take time to form in the transition to democracy. It is important therefore that there be an overall agreement, and that the sovereign council, which includes both the Transitional Military Council and civilians, be able to take things forward.

The US, Norway and the UK will work together constructively. We welcome the stance that the African Union has taken, and we fully support its envoy and the work that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed from Ethiopia has done to find a way forward. My hon. Friend also rightly points out the importance of engaging with our friends in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure a smooth transition to civilian rule. The international community has been clear about the completely unacceptable behaviour of the Rapid Support Forces; we deplore the terrible atrocities committed. We will set out the potential rewards of moving to civilian rule and make sure that people understand the tools we have to sanction those who do not play a constructive role in that transition.