Sudan’s National Dialogue extended ‘indefinitely’
The 7+7 National Dialogue Steering Committee has decided to extend the national dialogue conference for an indefinite period of time. The SPLM-N and the Sudanese Congress Party agreed not to participate in any pre-dialogue meeting without the participation of the other opposition parties.
The National Congress Party (NCP)-led Dialogue was inaugurated in Khartoum on 10 October, amid a boycott by the majority of the opposition parties and the main armed movements.
Last week, the Steering Committee announced that the dialogue would be concluded on 10 January.
Presidential Assistant and Committee member Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid however told the press on Sunday that the Dialogue has been extended for logical and practical reasons.
Apart from a number of dialogue committees that need more time to finish their work, holdout political and armed groups have expressed desire to join the conference, he explained.
The political secretary of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and member of the Steering Committee Kamal Omar pointed to ongoing contacts with the holdout opposition to convince them to join the conference.
He expressed readiness to re-open the Dialogue’s roadmap and statutes for new discussions if the holdout groups decide to participate.
Armed and political opposition groups say they will join the dialogue process, should the ruling NCP create a conducive environment, and hold an inclusive pre-dialogue meeting under the auspices of the African Union.
During an informal meeting between representatives of the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) held in Addis Ababa earlier this month, the rebel group repeated its stance about a comprehensive dialogue process that can pave the way for peace and democratic reforms in the country.
The SPLM-N and the Sudanese Congress Party said in a statement on Saturday that they will only take part in a preparatory Dialogue meeting if all signatories of the Sudan Appeal are invited.
The African mediation decided earlier to hold a mini-pre-dialogue meeting, excluding the opposition alliance National Consensus Forces (NCF), a major signatory of the Sudan Appeal.
Sudan Tribune reported on Saturday that opposition forces accuse the African mediation chief Thabo Mbeki of succumbing to the demands of Sudanese government who refuses the participation of the NCF.
Khartoum insists that the pre-dialogue meeting should only include the rebel umbrella Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF) and the National Umma Party (NUP) on one hand and the National Dialogue 7+7 Steering Committee on the other hand.
On 3 December last year, representatives of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance, the National Umma Party (NUP), the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties), and the Civil Society Initiative (CSI), signed the Sudan Appeal in Addis Ababa.
The two-page political communiqué calls for the ending of the civil wars in the country, the dismantling of the one-party system, and the rebuilding of Sudan based on democratic principles and equal citizenship. The signatories agree that if a peaceful regime change cannot be achieved by a broad national dialogue, it should be enforced by a popular uprising.
While the leaders of the SRF and NUP remained abroad, the chairmen of the NCF and the CSI were detained by security officers after their return to Khartoum. They were released on 9 April, a few days before the start of the general election.
(Sudan Tribune, Radio Dabanga)
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