On Thursday, faction leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N El Hilu) Abdelaziz El Hilu spoke to students of the Faculty of Mathematical Sciences of the University of Khartoum regarding the anniversary of the December revolution.
He said that the SPLM-N agreed with the government delegation on the venue of negotiations, mediation, and arranging the negotiation agenda, as well as starting with fundamental issues, and security arrangements. Now the two parties are negotiating about the Declaration of Principles, he verified.
El Hilu confirmed that he is categorically against the Constitutional Conference planned. “It merely represents the elite rather than the people”, he said. “We better search for alternatives and other mechanisms for robust constitution-making, such as the experiences of Kenya, South Africa, and Rwanda”, he added.
El Hilu stated that the SPLM-N does not want to repeat the experiences of previous peace talks, and the past transitional administrations that were wasted by the elites. "We, therefore, have decided to take advantage of the Juba platform to complete the Constitutional Document," he said.
The rebel leader described the Constitutional Document, agreed on by the Military Council and the Forces for Freedom and Change on August 3 as good, despite some shortcomings concerning its silence or lack of determination on the issues of Sharia [Muslim law] and secularism of state, as well as it includes articles related to the validation of former regime laws such as articles about the death penalty.
He said that the Constitutional Document should be open for debate to pave the way for a robust constitution. Every individual or group must preserve their own identity while bearing in mind that the state represents everyone, he added. El Hilu emphasised the SPLAM-N is keen on fair unity, comprehensive peace, and the transition from poverty to a state of welfare.
El Hilu stressed that the concept of state has not been established in Sudan since independence. Sudan has not ruled by democracy throughout its history, he said, describing the democratic periods as a form of democracy rather than its content.
He highlighted the issues that threaten the unity of the country such as the mass displacement people or homelessness, systematic persecution against specific groups, the civil wars, as well as a devastating record of human rights, external interference, and unprecedented economic deterioration.
National identity constitutes the primary cause of conflict in Sudan, El Hilu said.
He criticised Sudan's elites for not learning from the past mistakes, insisting on coercive unity, and insist on imposing the Arab-Islamic identity on all the Sudanese people despite the overwhelming diversity. These are very serious issues that threaten the unity of Sudan.
The rebel leader attributed the war in Darfur to the fact that the people in western Sudan have a different identity than what the central government in Khartoum adhered to or advocated for.
Suspension of the negotiations
On Friday, Radio Dabanga reported that the head of the South Sudanese mediation team, Tut Galuak, announced in a press statement on Thursday that the negotiations between the government and the SPLM-N El Hilu have been postponed for two weeks at the request of the movement.
The SPLM-N under El Hilu’s leadership confirmed that the negotiations with the government were postponed for two weeks because of the diverging positions between the two parties, regarding the secularism of the state and the right to self-determination that prevented the signing of the Declaration of Principles.
In a press statement, the rebel faction explained that the came up with the proposal stipulated that there should be a clear separation between religion and the state and the right for self-determination regarding the two areas the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile to exercise where people can exercise this right through a referendum. However, the government delegation rejected the issue regarding the explicit term of secularism of state.
The statement, however, confirmed their determination and willingness to resume negotiations and achieve a just and comprehensive peace that addresses the historical root causes of the Sudan’s problems.
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