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AU mediator asks FFC to talk with Sudanese rebel groups

March 23 - 2016 KHARTOUM
Chief AU mediator Thabo Mbeki (C) at the strategic consultation meeting with the Sudanese government, the holdout armed movements, and the Umma Party in Addis Ababa on 20 March (RD)
Chief AU mediator Thabo Mbeki (C) at the strategic consultation meeting with the Sudanese government, the holdout armed movements, and the Umma Party in Addis Ababa on 20 March (RD)

On Tuesday, the chairman of the AU mediation team, Thabo Mbeki, conducted a number of talks with the 7+7 National Dialogue Coordination Committee and the new opposition coalition of Future Forces of Change (FFC) in Khartoum.

He requested the FFC meet with the holdout rebel movements and the National Umma Party (NUP) in Addis Ababa.

Mbeki travelled to Khartoum on Monday, to brief President Al Bashir on the impasse of the “strategic consultation meeting” in Addis Ababa this weekend between the Sudanese government and the holdout rebel movements and the NUP.

The AUHIP chairman presented the warring parties the text of a roadmap on Sunday, regarding the accords to be agreed on to achieve peace in the country and the opposition’s participation in the National Dialogue. The government delegation and Mbeki signed the document. The opposition groups refused, accusing the AU mediator of siding with Khartoum.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, Fadul El Sayed Shueib, the spokesman for the 7+7 Committee said that Mbeki spoke with members of the Committee and of the Future Forces of Change (FFC), a new coalition of 41 conservative opposition groups established in Khartoum in February in a joint meeting.

Some of the FFC groups, like the Reform Now Movement (RNM), founded by dissidents of the ruling National Congress Party in December 2013, and the ultra-rightist Just Peace Forum (JPF), headed by El Tayeb Mustafa, President's Al Bashir's maternal uncle, left the National Dialogue process last year.

Shueib said that the AU mediator talked with representatives of the RNM, JPF, the National Liberal Party, and the mainstream Democratic Unionist Party. “The meeting dealt with the importance of stopping the wars and involving everyone in the National Dialogue, and concluded with the decision to hold direct bilateral meetings between the 7+7 Mechanism and the FFC to discuss the outstanding issues of the homeland and the Dialogue.”

He expected that these meetings will take place in the next few days.

“Both sides welcomed the meetings and see it as an important step towards ending the wars in the country,” he said. “If they agree on a number of measures, they will travel together to Addis, to hold joint meetings with the armed movements in order to end the wars and achieve peace.”

Mbeki’s proposal

The head of the new opposition coalition, National Congress Party dissident Ghazi Salaheddin Atabani, told reporters in Khartoum on Tuesday that the meeting with the National Dialogue Mechanism, chaired by the AU mediator, discussed the outcomes of the Dialogue.

“The FFC is committed to the partnership with the friends among the armed movements and [allied] opposition forces,” he stated. “We will consult them and discuss the negotiation issues with them, while Mbeki will determine the agenda, and facilitate and manage the meeting sessions.”

Atabani further said that after meeting with government officials, he will hold extensive talks with “opposition forces at home and abroad to gather their views regarding reviving the political process in the country, and to consult them on the next steps”.

The AU mediator returned to Addis Ababa after the meeting on Tuesday to consult the armed movements and the Umma Party on the developments.

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