Sudan opposition, civil society to meet in Germany

Darfuri lawyers warn for the repetition of past mistakes regarding the participation and independence of Sudan’s civil society organisations in the meeting.

A meeting in Berlin, Germany, is expected to bring together Sudan's opposition parties, signatories of the Sudan Appeal, and civil society organisations, from 24 to 26 February.

The meeting is expected to discuss national issues, including how to revive the Sudanese National Dialogue, and the dialogue forum in Ethiopia that takes place under the auspices of the African Union. The National Consensus Forces (an alliance of opposition parties), signatories of the Sudan Appeal (a 2-month-old political communiqué calling for regime change), the National Umma Party, and the Sudanese Civil Society Initiative will attend.

The participants are also to discuss how they can reach a comprehensive peace and achieve stability in the country, Minni Arko Minawi, Deputy-President of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (an alliance of Sudan's main rebel movements) claimed. “A meeting of the SRF leadership will be held in one of the European countries prior to the meeting in Berlin,” he said.

The Darfur Bar Association (DBA), a group of independent human rights lawyers, has praised the initiative by the German government to find a way out of the crisis in Sudan. It stressed the need for the participation of Sudanese Civil Society Initiative in the meeting, and in any dialogue or negotiation in Sudan.

The DBA said in a statement: “The chance of success of the initiative depends on […] the consideration of the role and involvement of civil society organisations, independently of the political and armed conflict.”

It pointed out that the involvement of Sudan's civil society in Berlin through integration of the government and the opposition, rather than an independent party, is “a repetition of the past mistakes and reproduction of defective experiences”. They point to earlier meetings and peace negotiations, during which the civil society organisations were integrated as part of the political forces.

“The Government and the opposition […] are not independent in the role they play”, as they both have a political agenda to follow. This is in contrast to the civil society, the DBA stressed. The political forces are “exacerbating the Sudanese crisis rather than resolving it".