'Anyone who committed atrocities will have to be tried' Sudanese PM Abdalla Hamdok Interview
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok sat down with DW Reporter Aya Ibrahim at the 2020 Munich Security Conference to discuss the country's transitional period, issues of inner peace and justice and how countries like Germany can help Sudan during this phase.
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Prime Minister. Thank you so much for being here with us on DW News. You've taken over Sudan at a historical moment. The country has is facing many challenges, did you have any doubts about wanting to take this role? It's not really a personal wish. This is a wish that is responding to a call of duty. So I did not have a single doubt in responding to that, knowing so well, it is full of challenges, it is dynamic, it is non-linear. You get it right today. You have problems and hurdles tomorrow. Taking this job was a response to the calls of the nation, my people who have managed to give the world one of the probably very rare moments of change particularly in our history something that we equate it to the great moments in nations’ history, equal to the fall of the Berlin Wall, years or centuries back probably, the French Revolution. That momentous change created the environment for me and many others to come, to help build a news nation, it is a dawn. I was in Sudan back in April at the sit-in front of the military headquarters and I saw many young people. They were full of expectation and hope from the government that eventually became your government. Do you feel like your government is living up to their expectations? This is what make(s) us tick, the hope, the expectations about us, about the change (from) the government by our people. We never promised that we are willing to do this on our own. It's a shared responsibility, we rise and fall in this process together with one conviction that we have two options either to succeed or succeed. And I think we are moving in that direction. But a lot of young people that I've spoken to in the past couple of days say the things that they went to the streets for, like basic living conditions including bread. These things have not been fulfilled. So do you think that the young people's expectations were too high? no their expectations were never too high. It is normal expectations by any government by its people. But also I'm sure they understand, they appreciate, we inherited a daunting challenge a legacy of 30 years. You cannot undo it overnight but I think equipped with that conviction and determination with our people working together. We had no doubts that we will be able to address this and overcome these challenges. What do you tell the young people who perhaps are feeling impatient with the delivery of actual results to their lives? One thing let us work together to address these issues. Expectations are one thing, but let us address these expectations together. Our interests are aligned we don't have different interests from theirs, expectation is the same. So let us join forces in addressing all this challenges together. Sudan is being run now under a unique cooperation between civilians and military. How is the cooperation between these two sides? Because it hasn't always been smooth has it? Yes. This is also another feature of the uniqueness of this Sudanese experiment. We are proudly propagating this across the world and calling it the Sudanese model which is a partnership between the civilian and the military, to build democracy with the solid foundation for democracy. This partnership is working. It is not free from challenges, there are so many challenges. But I think there is a determination on both sides to make it work and we are doing that precisely. If you look at the region around us the failures in many places, because I think they were not able to establish an accord that would allow such partnership to move the country forward. We know we are experimenting with it. We know there is no transition that is smooth, transitions are always messy non-linear and I think that in itself what makes it a very interesting experiment to be a part of. Do you trust the military side of your government? Do you trust them? Absolutely, I do Because some young people that I've spoken to have said this military has been involved in the oppression and at some point even the killing of so many protesters. I do appreciate the views that expressed by our young people. Remember these are young people who are subjected to all kinds of oppression. You lived through that and you know it in the streets and all this for years for decades. That's why they have these views. But I think gradually we are building this partnership together. None of this equation, these two sides of the equation will be able to move on their own to build this new nation. I appreciate those views but we are working together to address them. Let's turn to the topic of the clearing of the sit in in June and the people that were killed on the streets. A lot of them believe that the Rapid Support Forces were involved in this attack. When will these people see justice? Because so far some say the results just have not been up to what happened to protesters on the streets. I'm sure you know so well. The Constitutional document which is guiding this transitional period has a very clear undertaking that we establish an investigation committee. So let us not jump to conclusion, that investigation committee formed from very respected lawyers and people in the legal field in Sudan. They started their work over three months now and they are doing their work and produce the report. You recently requested that U.N. peacekeeping forces be deployed and the whole of Sudan. Why did you do that? Why is the U.N. needed now in Sudan? Actually let us put this into its proper context. We did not just wake up one day and said we want the U.N. to come to the country. The U.N. is there, we are not calling it but for the whole of Sudan? The U.N. is there under Chapter 7 meaning that if there is anything that you could closely call it loss of sovereignty, is what is happening today. What we are calling for is to move the U.N. from Chapter 7 to Chapter 6 which would allow us to express our wish and if you could call it anywhere, dictate on the UN on our priorities. This is where we would like to create an opportunity where we tell the U.N., this is what we want like you to come do one, two, three, four, on our terms. The whole country approach is an idea we discussed in our national committee for a number of months. What it tells us, in the past that the U.N. intervention in Sudan was compartmentalized; it is in Darfur, in Blue Nile, in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan and all that. What would like to see, when we see as a whole country approach is addressing the challenges and the issues and the requirement and objectives of the entire transitional period. This certainly has some agenda which is of national nature of a whole country. When you talk about elections, we will not just have them in Darfur; it will be the whole country. A constitutional conference it will engulf the entire country, the process itself. We would like to enlist the support of the U.N. in those processes of a national nature that is why we call it a whole country approach. The support could be providing one adviser could be providing technical support. Take an example, the election. Today we would like to embark on a process that will conclude this transitional period with an election. The U.N. has accumulated experiences technical and otherwise across the globe, support on addressing issues of election systems an election system that will provide us with an opportunity to represent all our people. The U.N could provide that so it's not about entrusting this entirely to the U.N. The funding of the elections, the U.N. has accumulated very rich experience in generating resources and funds to support the elections. So it is only perfect and we are part of the U.N., it’s not like another body will rule somebody but it's coming from somewhere. let's turn to the topic of the hour the possibility of former President Ahmed Bashir to appear before the International Criminal Court. Will he be sent over to The Hague? The idea of justice needs to be set to the maximum satisfaction of the victim, is something that was a well-articulated in the constitutional transitional period document. We will definitely uphold that. There are four ways of addressing this. The ICC is one of them. ICC itself has so many levels. It could be an ICC in Hague could be an ICC compliant court that is in Sudan or in the region, transitional justice, issues of truth and reconciliation, compensation individual and community. We are not going to rest until the victims, those victims to be satisfied that justice not only being perceived but actually being served. And that is how we see it. From what I understand all options are now open. You still haven't decided whether it be, in the Hague or in Sudan or in a regional court, are all options open? Yea of course, of course. This is something you know, the announcement of this was part of our peace negotiations. And I think this is something, I want to tell you one thing, any person who committed atrocities, criminal, financial, will have to be tried and that is our bottom line. We are working on rebuilding our judiciary system and all that. And we hope to have a credible independent judicial system, Sudanese. Let's talk about Germany and your visit to Germany, the past couple of days have been quite historic in Sudan Germany relations. Concretely how can Germany help Sudan in this phase? The meeting with the chancellor Excellency Angela Merkel yesterday provided an opportunity for us to reflect, discuss in depth our interest our mutual interests for that matter and we agreed on concrete areas that German would work with us supporting us whether it is the economy, the energy sector, vocational training, mining, agriculture seminars. And we're very delighted. This is signalling a new beginning of this relationship which has very high promise. And we look forward to this cooperation that would also allow other partners and friends and nations to follow suit, what the German is doing. You mentioned the economy, Sudan badly needs foreign investment. What are your plans to attract foreign investment to Sudan? Your government's plans? Sudan is a very rich country. We don't want to live on hand outs, we are so rich in a sense that if we are able to create the right climate, meaning getting it right in the legal sphere independent judiciary system, respect for property rights and all that, and we are working on this, creating a one stop shop for investors, creating an environment where a serious, genuine investors come work with us pay their taxes and be able to repatriate whatever profit they make. And we are creating that environment and we're very confident we'll get there. Sudan is surrounded by many countries that have seen change because of popular uprisings and many of them have descended into chaos. Is Sudan different? Absolutely. Sudan is different in the sense that we are in this middle, as you mentioned it, whether you call it the Sahel or centre of Africa. Sudan’s change is unique in many respects. It's peaceful. It has great hopes for the entire region. I call it, getting it right in Sudan has a strategic impact and effect. You can imagine the spill over effect in the entire region, impact in the north, west, south and east. What we would like to see is our friends and partners working with us in making this a success story. It has all the right ingredients of making it as success in this sea of misery and conflict around us. That's why it is a unique experiment, unique in nature and all that, and let us get friends and partners working with us. The world, and that particular part of the world is looking for success stories that were absent for a long period of time. Sudan is giving that hope is giving that opportunity. Let us grab it. Let us work together on it and make it a real success story that will change the face of that part of the world.