The United Nations Security Council has renewed the mandate of the Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur for four months and requested the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission to provide a Special Report on the situation on the ground by the end of September.

An earlier council resolution has stated the mission would exit the country by June next year provided there were no significant changes in the security situation in Darfur.

After a security crackdown against protesters in the capital Khartoum earlier this month, several Council members expressed concern that they did not have a reliable governing partner in the Transitional Military Council.

It was a unanimous decision by the Council to extend the mandate of the mission and pause the planned drawdown.

This reflects the views of the majority in the UN Council that significant political and security developments in recent months merit pausing the mission’s drawdown and reconfiguration to a peace-building operation.

Jonathan Allen is the UK envoy as the co-penholder for resolutions on Sudan.

He says, “With the adoption of this resolution, the Security Council has made a responsible decision to pause the withdrawal of the AU-UN mission in Darfur, UNAMID. This was the right decision. It aligns with the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council on UNAMID, moreover, it recognizes that Darfur is affected by wider instability in Sudan and that there is a need for continued protection of civilians in Darfur.”

An AU Peace and Security Communiqué earlier this month expressed deep concern about the continued safety of civilians and staff of the mission in Darfur and rejected a decree by the Transitional Military Council to hand over assets to Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces, adding that UNAMID should not, in any circumstances hand over security responsibility to the RSP.

Germany is also a co-penholder.

Ambassador Christoph Heusgen says, “The fact that we adopted this resolution on the peacekeeping operation in Darfur unanimously demonstrates the Council lives up to its responsibility and we have to use this image, we have turned off our autopilot and we are not sleepwalking into a drawdown and eventual exit of peacekeeping oblivious to the changing situation in Khartoum, that we have pressed pause.”

South Africa’s envoy Jerry Matjila spoke on behalf of all three African states in Council.

He says, “We trust that the time provided will be utilised effectively by the Leadership in Sudan to address the political impasse, usher in stability and fulfil the aspirations of the Sudanese people. Moreover, this time should ensure that all UNAMID team sites are cleared for civilian purposes as originally intended. Peace and stability in Sudan is critical for the region and the continent as a whole, particularly in fulfilling the aspirations of Agenda 2063 and silencing the guns by 2020.”

Russia is among a few countries that believe the conditions for the drawdown have been met by Sudan’s authorities, but conceded to back the AU decision, as explained by diplomat Alexander Repkin.

“We expect that the September joint special report will contain special proposals to implement the Security Council decision to draw down UNAMID. I would like to underscore that we are opposed to any attempts to change the scheme or the drawdown of the mission. Time has come to focus on recovery and the economic development in Darfur. That should now be the priority of the international community.”

The African states also expressed hope that the planned joint-visit to Khartoum by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed and AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki would assist Sudan stakeholders to find one another on a common transitional arrangement.