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Darfur civil society rejects 2016 referendum

November 17 - 2015 KHARTOUM
Participant of the Darfur CSO Forum workshop in Khartoum University, 14 November 2015, where they demanded postponement of the Darfur referendum in April. On the right, Forum chairman El Amin Mahmoud (RD)
Participant of the Darfur CSO Forum workshop in Khartoum University, 14 November 2015, where they demanded postponement of the Darfur referendum in April. On the right, Forum chairman El Amin Mahmoud (RD)

The Darfur Civil Society Organisation demands the postponement of the referendum in Darfur, which is scheduled next April by Sudan’s ruling party.

The demands were made during a workshop on Saturday at the University of Khartoum. Mohamed El Tileib, member of the ruling National Congress Party that called out the Darfur referendum in April 2016, explained that it must be held in order to determine whether the status of the region has to be changed or remain with the current five states.

“The Doha negotiations have failed to meet the option of one province of Darfur,” said Musa Karama, an expert of the United Nations, on Saturday. “At that time, the government had adhered to the five states in Darfur and rejected the one province, under the pretext that this was the demand of the armed movements it was negotiating with.”

The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur was first signed in 2011 by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement, formed in 2010 by 19 breakaway factions of the Darfur rebel movements. A referendum on the status of the conflict region was supposed to be held within one year after the signing of the peace accord.

“Arrangements are proceeding well to hold a referendum in all Darfur states in April 2016, in order to lay the foundation for the future that is characterised by rational political practice in the region,” Al Bashir pointed out when announcing the referendum last month.

Referendum rejected

The former South Darfur state Governor, Hamad Ismail, has rejected the referendum in Darfur that President Omar Al Bashir announced on 19 October. At the workshop on Saturday, Ismail said that the Doha peace document (2011), that stipulates the referendum, “is not a holy book but void words”. He and other participants in the university demanded from the Darfur Regional Authority and the Sudanese government to ‘avoid confrontation with the people in Darfur’ and postpone the referendum.

A member of the Sudanese Communist Party, Saleh Mahmoud, considers the proposed referendum as “a plot […] to seduce the Darfuri society, after the government has failed to deter the armed movements by force”. The national army and air force have been fighting the armed rebels, which maintain positions in the mountainous East Jebel Marra, since the start of the conflict in Darfur.

A leading figure of the Popular Congress Party, Abdallah Ilah Wida added that the scheduled referendum is presented as a constitutional requirement of the Doha peace agreement, “but passes a hidden agenda to hit the people of Darfur”.

Audience at the workshop on Saturday 14 November in Khartoum (RD)


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