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Sudan's national dialogue conference starts in October

August 7 - 2015 KHARTOUM
The Popular Congress Party (PCP), led by Dr Hassan El Turabi, is one of the seven opposition parties in the 7+7 committee of the national dialogue (file photo)
The Popular Congress Party (PCP), led by Dr Hassan El Turabi, is one of the seven opposition parties in the 7+7 committee of the national dialogue (file photo)

The conference of the national dialogue in Sudan, chaired by President Omar Al Bashir, is scheduled to start on Saturday 10 October this year. Sudanese opposition parties still refuse to join the national dialogue.

The dialogue's higher coordination committee has announced this. The broad national dialogue is aimed to include political parties and armed movements, in addition to civil society groups, to discuss and resolve all wars and crises in the country. President Al Bashir presented his idea in January 2014. In the conference, participants will strive to arrive at decisions by consensus, according to the roadmap presented by the committee from seven pro-government and opposition parties (the '7+7').

Speaking for the Popular Congress opposition party (PCP) in the 7+7, Kamal Omar Abdelsalam told Radio Dabanga on Thursday that the committee will begin to meet with political forces and movements as from that day. In a general meeting on 20 August, the political secretary of the PCP said, the Sudanese government will present its commitment to the dialogue process.

“There are key issues the government should do now, including to pardon political convicts and detainees, stop the war, open areas for relief workers, stop the arrests of journalists and confiscations of newspapers,” Abdelsalam stressed.

Preparatory meeting

He revealed that the visit of Thabo Mbeki, chairman of the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), to Khartoum this week came at the request by President Al Bashir. “To deliver a clear message to him, that the government refuses the preparatory dialogue abroad.”

This preparatory national dialogue meeting was insisted on by the opposition Sudan Appeal signatories, consisting of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, an alliance of the main rebel movements), the National Umma Party (NUP), the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties), and affiliated civil society organisations. Sudan's ruling NCP party, however, did not participate in a planned meeting in Addis Ababa in March this year

Abdelsalam added that the government has asked Mbeki to specify meetings with the SRF about a ceasefire in the conflict areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and at the same time, disregard Darfur issue. "The PCP believes that a ceasefire must basically include Darfur."

Other Sudanese opposition parties still refuse to join the national dialogue. Ibrahim El Sheikh, the head of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), for instance, has described the dialogue as valueless. As one of the leaders of the Sudan Appeal, he said they will not enter in any dialogue unless the government abolishes all laws that restrict freedoms in Sudan, constitutional amendments, and unless all parties involved in the killing of demonstrators in the September 2013 uprising in Khartoum are hold accountable.

Regarding the preparatory meeting with Thabo Mbeki, El Sheikh added in an interview with Radio Dabanga that the Sudan Appeal and opposition parties have no plan to meet Mbeki again. He said that the party's vision to resolve the crises is that the Sudanese regime must leave via a popular uprising.

SPLM-N appointments

The armed Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) pointed to the difficult humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, claiming that this crisis can only be resolved by allowing access to aid groups and stop the aerial bombardments. In a press statement on Thursday, the rebel group called for a comprehensive cessation of hostilities in the Two Areas, and Darfur.

The leadership said that it is ready to hold consultations with the high-mechanism the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the international community as part of a comprehensive solution – and not a partial one. The statement confirmed that the SPLM-N participates in the IGAD’s next meeting with the parties of the Sudan Appeal.

The SPLM-N further announced that commander Jogod Makwar Marada is now appointed chief of staff and first commander of the SRF alliance, instead of Abdelaziz Adam El Helou, who is now deputy general commander. The appointments are a “preparation for the operations of the next summer”, the statement read.

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