The Government of Sudan should manifest a higher level of commitment and conviction that peace through negotiations is the only solution available to all parties, according to the Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) in its latest Sudan Update.
At the end of a difficult process undergone by the AU High Implementation Panel (AUHIP), the Sudanese armed and political opposition groups, allied under the Sudan Appeal Forces, agreed on 8 August to sign the procedural Roadmap Agreement proposed by the AUHIP. The Sudanese opposition accepted the text, after the AUHIP agreed to acknowledge and address the opposition’s reservations on the document.
The Roadmap stipulated the launch of negotiations about a simultaneous cessation of hostilities for humanitarian purposes in the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile) and Darfur, before a preparatory meeting would be held on the opposition’s participation in the National Dialogue. This preparatory meeting, to be held under auspices of the AUHIP, would discuss the agenda and structure of the National Dialogue initiated by President Omar Al Bashir in early 2014. The ultimate aim is to attain a genuine, comprehensive and effective dialogue process that contributes to the resolution of the Sudanese crisis, the SDFG writes its September Update.
Following the signing of the Roadmap, the SDFG report reads, “the stubbornness of the Sudanese government in the negotiations” led to the collapse of the negotiations.
“It was apparent to all observers that the Government of Sudan was neither serious nor ready for a genuine National Dialogue process that requires it to make compromises to attain peace…
“It is clear that the government’s engagement in the negotiation process was a tactic through which it hoped to strengthen its military stance by securing information that would assist it in imposing a new military reality in the three conflict zones.”
The Sudanese think-tank therefore recommends the Government of Sudan “To manifest a higher level of commitment and conviction that peace through negotiations is the only solution available to all parties”.
“It was apparent to all observers that the Government of Sudan was neither serious nor ready for a genuine National Dialogue process that requires it to make compromises to attain peace…”
Further, the government should contribute to trust-building between all negotiating parties, by sending “serious and qualified negotiators to reach a solution without attempting to impose isolationist and racist political and ideological agendas”, providing “effective access for humanitarian assistance, stopping aerial bombardments of civilians in the three conflict areas, and releasing all prisoners taken on the battlefields and political detainees”, and by availing “adequate political and civil liberties that permit the dialogue process to progress”.
The Sudanese opposition must coordinate the negotiating positions among the different negotiation tracks in order to attain a comprehensive and just solution addressing the roots of the crises in the country, the Update reads.
SDFG further recommends the opposition forces to increase their “popular and grassroots representation of the affected populations and civil society, and engage them directly in the different negotiation processes, and to constantly consult with them to include their issues among the dialogue requisites prior to the preparatory meeting”.
As for the AUHIP, the Sudanese activists state that it should take into consideration “the demands of the affected populations in the three war areas, to listen to their positions, and to directly take on board their issues”. The mediators must “use the views of Sudanese experts (such as academics and those from the civil society) in its proposals in order to help guarantee their effectiveness.
Furthermore, “The mediation and the international community should exert more effort with the Government of Sudan, not solely because of the destructive efforts resulting from the continuation of the war, but also because of the consequences of the collapsing political and economic situation in Sudan. […] the international community should link the assistance and incentives package it is offering to the Government with real progress on the issues of the cessation of hostilities and trust-building”.
SDFG is a coalition of Sudanese democrats, activists, trade unionists and academics representing different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It was established after Sudan’s national elections of 2010.
The main agenda of the group is to voice the concerns of voiceless Sudanese people across the country around questions of democratisation and its intersection with peace, justice and development in Sudan. The group is connected to other initiatives formed by Sudanese people in different centres across Sudan.