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Secular state an obstacle to Sudan peace talks

December 17 - 2019 JUBA
Agreement of Juba ceremony (File photo RD)
Agreement of Juba ceremony (File photo RD)

On Monday, the first negotiation session started, after the extension of the Juba Declaration, between the transitional government delegation headed by Lt Gen Mohammad Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance of armed movements, and the heads of the five tracks of negotiations. The session focused on developing the schedule and the agenda for discussing the main issues in order to reach an agreement before February 15, 2020. The SPLM-N El Hilu adheres to its long-standing position regarding a secular state.

During a press conference on Monday, the head of the SPLM-N, Malik Agar, called for the integration of armed factions into the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the former National Intelligence Security Services (NISS). Agar stated that Sudan’s unity and security are our most important pillars in the Juba peace negotiations.

He added that it is important to unify the SAF and restructure the former NISS to ensure the sustainability of peace. Regarding the issue pertaining to the relationship between the state religion, Agar stated that it should be resolved through a constitutional conference that includes all Sudanese.

He further clarified that the two-month period is sufficient to reach a comprehensive peace agreement if there is a political will of all parties. He also explained that the teams handling the five tracks, namely Darfur, the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile state), eastern, central, and northern Sudan, will work to resolve issues within a national framework while respecting the specificity of each region.

Secularism

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) announced that the current round of negotiations has not achieved any positive results that push the negotiations forward.

On Monday, SPLM-N El Hilu spokesman El Jak Mahmoud explained in a statement that the negotiating parties have not yet achieved any significant breakthrough regarding the issue of disagreement on the declaration of principles, in particular, secularism and the right to self-determination.

“The SPLM-N insists on negotiating all issues that constitute the root causes of the Sudanese problem without suspending or transferring any of them to the so-called Constitutional Conference as the realisation of a just, comprehensive and sustainable peace is a strategic issue with an affordable bill that should be prioritised,” the spokesman said.

The long-standing position of the SPLM-N is to establish a viable secular Sudan that prevents imposing laws on a religious basis. Failure to achieve this will inevitably make the option of the right to self-determination a principle rather than a negotiation position, Mahmoud stated.


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