The UN Security Council has ended the peacekeeping mission in Sudan, adding another international trait to Khartoum as it rebuilds from years of war and isolation.
The decision reached on Tuesday night via video conference means the The African Union - United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (Unamid) will cease to exist on December 31, bringing to a close 13 years of operations in what was once a war-torn region of Sudan.
The Security Council, the UN’s most powerful body, unanimously adopted resolution 2559 of 2020, which granted powers for protection of civilians in the hands of the Sudanese government.
It is a decision that fits part of Sudan’s continued acceptance to the international community.
On Monday, the US had formally restored the country’s sovereign immunity and lifted all sanctions imposed on Khartoum as a state sponsor of terrorism.
For Darfur, the move by the Security Council could close a horrid chapter on a part of Sudan where an estimated 300,000 or more civilians were killed in the war between rebels fighting for the rights of non-Arabs and militia allied to the government of Omar al-Bashir.
Bashir, ousted in April 2019, was indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
The rebels have since signed a peace pact with the Transitional Government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, allowing them to join the government.
The decision of the Council also means that the mandate of Kenya’s top military officer Leonard Muriuki Ng’ondi, who was the Force Commander, will end. Lt-Gen Ng’ondi was in charge of the more than 4,000 troops in Darfur having taken over the post in 2017 from Rwanda’s Frank Mushyo Kamanzi.
Ng’ondi, once head of the National Defence College, was born in 1959 and has been with the KDF for four decades. Unamid was his fourth external assignment, having served as Force Commander in the United Nations Mission in Liberia in 2012, Commanding Officer of the Kenyan battalion (KENBATT) in the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone in 2000 as well as serving in the Kenyan contingent in the United Nations Transition Assistance Group in Namibia in 1990.
The Council says Sudan will have to rebuild the local communities’ confidence in its authority by delivering justice and security.
The Council, however, authorised a guard unit to be created from the uniformed personnel to protect the remaining officials, facilities and other property and demanded cooperation from Sudanese authorities for the time the Mission will be handing over.
“The Council requested that the Government [to] respect the 9 February 2008 Status of Forces Agreement, particularly in relation to the mission’s safety and security,” said a bulletin from the UN in New York.
“It should grant the United Nations access to UNAMID premises until an agreed handover, ensuring full freedom of movement of mission personnel, vehicles and aircraft, by further terms.”
Sudan will have to allow unfettered redeployment of Unamid’s equipment, supplies and other assets as well as the export of United Nations equipment and supplies, the 15-member Council also decided.
The Council traditionally meets physically to decide on matters of international peace and security. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, member states have been meeting both physically and virtually.
They have also taken decisions based on a written procedure vote “under temporary, extraordinary and provisional measures” announced in March this year.
Unamid troops came from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal and Tanzania.