The Sudanese opposition forces allied under the Sudan Appeal will most likely sign an adjusted version of the Roadmap, proposed by the AU mediation team, according to El Sadig El Mahdi, president of the National Umma Party (NUP). The mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) keeps to its boycott of the peace talks.
In his Eid El Fitr speech delivered from his residence in the Egyptian capital on Wednesday, El Mahdi said that the Sudan Appeal forces will meet in Addis Ababa immediately after the Eid and may soon agree on the adjusted text of the Roadmap for the peace negotiations with Khartoum.
In early June, the NUP leader was invited to Johannesburg by Thabo Mbeki, the chairman of the AU High-level implementation Panel (AUHIP) negotiation team, “to find out the reasons for the Sudan Appeal forces’ refusal to sign the AUHIP roadmap”.
Following a meeting in Addis Ababa with US Special Envoy Donald Booth on 18 June, the opposition groups said they would hand over a supplemental document to Mbeki. They would reconsider their rejection of the Roadmap if Mbeki accepts it to ensure that the Roadmap becomes a gateway to a fruitful dialogue.
The next day, El Mahdi sent Mbeki ’A Proposal to Break the Impasse on the Roadmap Agreement’ on behalf of the Sudan Appeal forces.
Mbeki replied on 20 June that, in his capacity as facilitator, he cannot enter into any Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with any of the Sudanese Parties. “It is also important to understand that any further negotiations concerning the Roadmap Agreement should be between these Parties, not the AUHIP.”
In his Eid El Fitr speech, El Mahdi stated that Mbeki sent him a letter on 23 June, in which he proposed to deal positively with the MoU text – “which opens the road for us to sign the Roadmap, and engage in a dialogue with the Sudanese government, no matter how different the terminology used is. In fact, we positively respond to AU Resolution 539”.
On 23 March, the AUHIP proposed a Roadmap agreement to the Sudanese government and the NUP, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, the Justice and Equality Movement, and the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minawi. The government delegation signed, yet the opposition groups declined because of three items in the agreement.
The SLM-AW does not take part in the negotiations with the government. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, leader Abdelwahid El Nur defended his refusal to join the peace talks with Khartoum by saying that “in the past this government has signed about 45 agreements, but has never kept to them.
“We are with the Sudanese people who does not trust the government, and prefer to get rid of them by a popular uprising. The Sudan Appeal forces however opt for a new deal with the regime in Khartoum brokered by the international community for the reason of obtaining political seats, and have abandoned the idea of an intifada,” he said.
El Nur stressed that he respects the other forces' choice for negotiations, “as long as they respect our choice for siding with the Sudanese people”.