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Sudan opposition refuse to sign AUHIP roadmap

March 22 - 2016 ADDIS ABABA
Head of the Sudanese government delegation, Ibrahim Mahmoud, and AUHIP chairman Thabo Mbeki sign the roadmap agreement at the talks in Addis Ababa. The opposition parties refused to sign. (RD)
Head of the Sudanese government delegation, Ibrahim Mahmoud, and AUHIP chairman Thabo Mbeki sign the roadmap agreement at the talks in Addis Ababa. The opposition parties refused to sign. (RD)

The opposition forces attending the consultative meeting under auspices of the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) refused to sign a roadmap agreement prepared by the AU chief mediator, Thabo Mbeki, to end the armed conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan, and on the National Dialogue. The government delegation and the chief mediator signed the document.

The AUHIP-brokered “strategic consultation meeting” began in the Ethiopian capital on Friday. It was attended by a delegation of the Sudanese government, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), the Sudan Liberation Movement faction led by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the National Umma Party (NUP).

After the opposition refused to sign the AUHIP roadmap, Mbeki left for Khartoum to brief President Al Bashir on the outcome of the meeting today.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, to be broadcast on Tuesday, Minawi commented that “Mediator Mbeki saw himself as the other party in the conflict and signed the paper, together with the Sudanese government.”

According to the rebel leader, the AUHIP chairman intends to circumvent the preparatory National Dialogue meeting, to be held in Addis Ababa, as proposed by the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) on 25 August 2015 in its Resolution 539. 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.

“Mediator Mbeki saw himself as the other party in the conflict and signed the paper, together with the Sudanese government.”

In September last year, the rebel movements requested the East-African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the UN, the EU, the Sudan Troika (USA, UK, and Norway) and a number of other countries, to collaborate to reinforce the AU resolution.

The Sudanese government categorically refuses to hold the National Dialogue abroad, and has repeatedly invited the rebel movements to Khartoum to join the process on Sudanese territory. The allied rebel movements have repeatedly maintained that they will not participate in a National Dialogue that is arranged solely by Sudan’s ruling party.

“Mbeki intended to present the so-called consultation meetings in the Ethiopian capital later, as an alternative for the pre-Dialogue meeting,” Minawi stated.

“The way of delusions the AUHIP chairman has chosen, is the same Al Bashir is using in his National Dialogue. This is a veiled dictatorship, something we will never accept.”

Roadmap

Abdelmonim El Jak, Chief Executive of the Sudanese Democracy First Group, explained the content of the roadmap agreement proposed by the AU mediator:

“The roadmap is based on two main components. The first one concerns a cessation of hostilities, a comprehensive ceasefire, and political negotiations on the Two Areas (Blue Nile and South Kordofan) and Darfur, while the second component is related to the National Dialogue process, in particular to the stances of the ruling National Congress Party.”

El Jak stated that it was envisaged that as soon as the warring parties have signed the roadmap, the attention would immediately turn to developing an accord on the cessation of hostilities in Darfur and the Two Areas, followed by an agreement on a comprehensive ceasefire, and an agreement on political solutions for Darfur.

“Immediately after these accords, the opposition was supposed to reach an agreement with members of the 7 +7 Dialogue Mechanism in Addis Ababa about arrangements for the opposition groups to attend the National Dialogue in Khartoum,” he said.

Though the map did not specify the time required, El Jak expected that “the entire process would take a week or two”.

For the future of the country’

Assistant to the President, Ibrahim Mahmoud, who headed the government delegation, expressed the hope that the opposition groups would sign the roadmap as well.

“We signed the roadmap, despite some reservations, because we consider the existence of peace, reconciliation, and harmony among the people of one country the utmost priority.”

In a press statement today, he said that “The important thing about this roadmap is to reach a lasting peace, to end the war and the suffering of the people, and to let the holdout opposition groups participate in the Dialogue, for the future of the country, in all political, economic, and security fields. This will be done by incorporating the National Document in the Constitution.”

Mahmoud added that “We signed the roadmap, despite some reservations, because we consider the existence of peace, reconciliation, and harmony among the people of one country the utmost priority. [..] We hope that our brothers of the armed movements and Imam El Sadig El Mahdi will sign the document later, as the AUHIP promised.”

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