In a recent interview with The National, Annette Weber, the European Union’s special representative for the Horn of Africa, emphasized the necessity of an African-led solution to address the ongoing conflict in Sudan. Weber called for the warring factions to solidify the current ceasefire and allow unhindered humanitarian aid, with the support of a united African front.
The week-long truce, aimed at facilitating aid delivery, marks a crucial starting point in ending the conflict between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Although reports of heavy clashes have surfaced in cities, including the capital Khartoum, the ceasefire has largely held since its implementation on Monday night.
Brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia in talks held in Jeddah, the truce incorporates a monitoring mechanism involving the army, the RSF, as well as representatives from Washington and Riyadh. While Weber expressed support for the role of Saudi Arabia and the US, she stressed the importance of a broader African role in resolving the crisis.
During her visit to Abu Dhabi, Weber reiterated the EU’s full support for an African-led effort, proposing a task force that encompasses the League of Arab States, the EU, and the Quad (comprising the US, UK, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE). She emphasized the significance of having a strong negotiator to bridge the Arab-African composition of Sudan and lead the political and humanitarian solution.
While the humanitarian truce is a step in the right direction, Weber cautioned that it alone is insufficient to halt the fighting. She highlighted the need for an inclusive civilian-led government and underscored the importance of consulting with civilians to restore an understanding reached before the outbreak of conflict in April. Weber expressed concerns about the deepening civilian suffering and stressed that silencing the guns and ensuring the survival of the people must be top priorities for Sudan and the international community.
Amidst the destruction and suffering caused by the conflict, the Sudanese generals involved in the conflict still hold the belief that a military solution is achievable. Weber emphasized the responsibility of the warring parties to protect the population and called for a wider consideration of the dangers faced by civilians caught in the crossfire.
The violence has already taken a severe toll on the population, with over half of Sudan’s 25 million people now in need of humanitarian assistance. The destruction of essential infrastructure, including markets and energy supplies, has further exacerbated the crisis. Aid agencies, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, have been unable to distribute life-saving aid due to security constraints and limited access to affected areas.
To address these challenges effectively, Weber highlighted the need for negotiations to establish a humanitarian ceasefire and ensure unimpeded aid delivery. She emphasized the importance of both sides recognizing that the affected population is their responsibility. Furthermore, she emphasized the broader issues facing the Horn of Africa, such as drought and climate change, which require a regional approach and investment in sustainable solutions.
Weber concluded by stating that the EU is committed to supporting the African Union and strengthening its secretariat to bring an end to Sudan’s protracted conflict. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the two generals involved understand that the war will not lead to a leadership position in Sudan, but rather the well-being of its people.
As Sudan continues to grapple with the devastating consequences of the conflict, the international community must rally behind an African-led solution and work towards a lasting peace that prioritizes the safety and livelihoods of Sudan’s civilian population.