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Sudan’s Dialogue members agree on National Document

October 10 - 2016 KHARTOUM
President Omar Al Bashir chairing the procedal National Dialogue session in Khartoum on 9 October 2016 (Suna)
President Omar Al Bashir chairing the procedal National Dialogue session in Khartoum on 9 October 2016 (Suna)

On Sunday, the members of Sudan’s National Dialogue Conference passed the National Document that will form the basis for the country’s Permanent Constitution. The opposition groups allied under the Sudan Appeal reject the outcomes and insist on holding a ‘preparatory meeting’ with the government abroad.

In a procedural session preceding the opening of the final National Dialogue Conference today, President Omar Al Bashir called the Dialogue “an unprecedented phenomenon in the world and a model for Sudan’s sister countries”. He welcomed the recent participation of the opposition coalitions Future Forces of Change and the National Forces Alliance (NFA).

The president said that the National Document “reflects the will of the people of Sudan”, and “will serve as a basis for the ruling of the country”.

He lauded the outcomes of the National Dialogue deliberations during the past year, and emphasised that they express the views of all political forces in the country, including the opposition. He further said that “the door is still open to everyone who wishes to join the Dialogue”.

“The National Document reflects the will of the people of Sudan, and will serve as a basis for the ruling of the country.”

The Dialogue discussions centred on the issues of peace, unity, economy, basic rights and freedoms, identity, foreign relations, governance, and the implementation of the outcomes of the dialogue.

The recommendations in the National Document aim “to establish a fair and legal political system, based on new constitutional, political, and community foundations, agreed on by the Sudanese people”. The Document also points to the need of confidence-building measures such as releasing all political prisoners, ensuring political and civil liberties.

In January 2014, Al Bashir proposed the establishment of a National Dialogue mechanism, and called on all Sudanese political parties and rebel movements to participate in order to solve the various crises in the country. The opposition forces however, refused to join the Dialogue before the wars in the country have been ended and civil liberties restored.

The Dialogue was officially launched on 10 October last year, and will be rounded-up today during a ceremony to be attended by befriended presidents from the region, the chair of the AU Commission, the heads of the Arab League, and Islamic Cooperation Organisation, and representatives from the Russian and Chinese governments.

Preparatory Meeting

The opposition forces allied by the Sudan Appeal responded to the presentation of the National Document that it “concerns the Khartoum regime and its allies only”.

The Sudan Appeal, a two-page political communiqué calling for regime change and democracy, was signed by 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 the Civil Society Initiative in the Ethiopian capital on 3 December 2014. Other Sudanese parties and civil society groups joined them in the following year.

“The restriction of liberties in the country and the arbitrariness of the National Dialogue committees and meetings turned the process into an internal monologue.”

Omar Yousef El Digeir, Sudanese Congress Party member and spokesman for the Sudan Appeal groups, told Radio Dabanga that they agreed on an alternative dialogue in case the government will not agree to the cessation of hostilities and delivery of humanitarian aid to the people in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile.

“We consider a preparatory meeting for the National Dialogue, to be held under auspices of the AU in the Ethiopian capital, as a final condition to enter into new peace negotiations with the government. The alternative will be the overthrow of the regime.”

He added that the Sudan Appeal leadership received a notice from Thabo Mbeki, chairman of the AU mediation team, requesting Khartoum to approve the proposal of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) to provide humanitarian aid to war victims in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan States through Asosa in Ethiopia.

Umma Party

The National Umma Party (NUP) considers the National Dialogue as “a dialogue between the government and its allies”.

In a statement on Sunday, the NUP stated that “President Al Bashir is controlling the dialogue platform. The restriction of liberties in the country and the arbitrariness of the National Dialogue committees and meetings turned the process into an internal monologue.

“To end the wars in the country, realise the delivery of relief, restore civil liberties, and release the political detainees, a preparatory meeting abroad is the only alternative. The meeting should not be controlled to any of the parties, and no party should be isolated,” the statement reads.

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