SRF, opposition call on international community to support Sudan's pre-dialogue meeting
International envoys are expected to support the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) in Sudan in favour of a pre-dialogue meeting, following a meeting with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) and Sudan Appeal delegates in Paris.
The opposition groups and armed movements announced this after their second meeting with international special envoys, held in the French capital Paris on Wednesday. United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, British counterpart Matthew Cannell, Head of African affairs department at the French Foreign Ministry Jean-Christophe Belliard, European Union envoy for the Horn of Africa Alexander Rondos, and a representative of Norway were present at the table.
Foreign relations secretary of the SRF rebel alliance, Yasir Arman, who is also the secretary-general of the rebel SPLM-N, revealed to Sudan Tribune that the international envoys agreed to back up the African Union council's proposal on 25 August to set up a pre-dialogue meeting for the national dialogue process in Sudan, that would gather armed groups and political parties. The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has rejected this roadmap.
Russia and China
Arman asserted that the decision will be communicated to the United Nations Security Council and appealed to Russia and China to support the African roadmap. It will enable Sudan to enter into a partnership with the international community, including Russia and China, because it sets the foundation for peace, security and democracy, the secretary stressed. “No development can be achieved at times of war.”
US envoy Donald Booth has yet to make his statements about the meeting to the media. Sources that took part in the meeting said Booth suggested that the rebels should announce their willingness to accept a ceasefire in response to President Omer Al Bashir’s offer to stop military operations for two months.
Reform Now Movement
The head of the Reform Now Movement (RNM), a splinter faction of the ruling party, also attended the meeting. Arman said the participation of Gahzi Salaheldin Attabani marks a progress in the relation between the RNM and the SRF alliance of rebel movements. Attabani, National Umma Party leader El Sadig El Mahdi, chairman of the National Consensus Forces (alliance of opposition parties) Farouk Abu Eisa, and Amin Mekki Madani, head of the Sudanese Civil Society Organisations attended the meeting through conference call, from Khartoum, Cairo, and London.
Arman added that the SRF delegates will hold a three-day meeting in the French capital to discuss the political situation.
Last Sunday, the dialogue mechanism softened this position on the pre-dialogue meeting, proposed in the AUPSC's 539th communiqué, and announced accepting to meet the rebel groups before the process. “The ball is now in Khartoum's court,” Arman said.
This pre-dialogue meeting is supposed to discuss measures that the government should implement before the process, in order to build confidence among all parties and create a conducive environment. These include a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access for civilians in the rebel-held areas, political freedoms, and freedom of the press.
Statements from the rebels
Minni Arko Minawi, Vice-President of the SRF and leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement faction (SLM-MM) told Radio Dabanga that he experienced the meeting as “successful”. “The Sudan Revolutionary Front demanded the envoys to support the African Union's recent decision on Sudan. We stressed the need of the issuance of a resolution by the UN Security Council.”
SRF Vice-President Abdel Wahid El Nur (SLM-AW) issued a statement reiterating the movement's demand for the protection of civilians, the disarmament of the Janjaweed and the removal of new settlers from the lands of civilians.
The group would not negotiate with Khartoum until “confidence building measures” were met.
In a forum in Khartoum, more than 800 people launched an appeal to the Sudanese government and the armed movements on Tuesday, to pay attention to the suffering of people in their wars, and to replace these with a comprehensive peace.
The launch of the appeal was organised by the Peace Research Centre at the University of Khartoum, which concludes on Thursday with a gala. Participants in the forum, to raise attention to stop the wars in Sudan, are a number of politicians, artists, legal experts, university professors, and civil society organisations.
Dr. Tayeb Haj Attia, a professor at the University of Khartoum, told Radio Dabanga that the government and the armed opposition should pause their war before the launch of any national dialogue.
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