Sudanese officials meet with Chad President on National Dialogue
A Sudanese government delegation arrived in the Chad capital N’Djamena on Wednesday to meet with President Idris Deby. The discussions will include the participation of the armed opposition in the National Dialogue and the security situation in Sudan, Chad, and Libya.
A number of Darfur rebel groups have also been invited to N’Djamena to discuss their participation in the Dialogue.
Sudanese media reported on Tuesday that the Darfur rebel movements were heading towards the Chad capital, where they would meet with members of the Nation Dialogue 7+7 coordination committee on Wednesday, as part of an initiative led by Deby to encourage the Darfur movements to join the Dialogue.
However, the main holdout Darfur rebel movements say they did not receive an invitation. The spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Jibril Adam Bilal, denied the media reports, saying that his movement, as well as the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) factions led by Abdelwahid El Nur and Minni Minawi, “have no plans or intention to meet with the Sudanese regime in N’Djamena, and have not been contacted in this regard”.
Bilal told Radio Dabanga that rumours about their participation were spread by the Khartoum regime, “which by all means seeks to legitimise its ‘self-self dialogue’ at home by showing that it has contacts with the parties to the conflict. It is also an attempt to discredit the rebel movements in the public opinion.”
Tahir Abubakar Hajar, leader of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army for Justice, and Abulgasim Imam, head of the SLM-Imam, confirmed their participation in the N’Djamena consultations. Hajar told reporters in Khartoum on Tuesday that he had received an invitation from the Chad government to continue the previous consultations held last December in N’Djamena about the peace process in Darfur.
The Sudan News Agency (Suna) reported on Wednesday that Ibrahim Mahmoud, Assistant to the President arrived in N’Djamena that day with a delegation consisting of Ahmed Saad Omar, Cabinet Affairs Minister, Amin Hassan Omar, the head of the Darfur Peace Follow-up Office, and two members of the National Dialogue Committee, Bahar Idris Abu Garda, chairman of the Liberation and Justice Party, and Kamal Omar, political secretary of the opposition Popular Congress Party.
Mahmoud handed two letters from President Al Bashir to the Chadian President and said that Sudan has officially requested Deby to persuade the holdout Darfur rebel movements to join the dialogue session in October. He further discussed with President Deby the security situation in the region and ways of consolidating the economic cooperation between the two countries.
The opening session of the National Dialogue scheduled to start in Khartoum on 10 October, will be headed by President Omar Al Bashir. He proposed a broad Sudanese dialogue in January 2014 to end the political crises and the civil wars in the country.
In the months that followed, Khartoum extended its control on political gatherings and speeches as well as the media. Many political opposition leaders and activists were detained, and print-runs of newspapers were regularly confiscated, and journalists and editors interrogated.
The armed movements and the opposition parties in the country welcome the idea of a dialogue, but stress that the dialogue should be held abroad and led by a neutral body, such as the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP). The leaders of the main rebel groups have been sentenced to death in absence by Sudanese judges in the past years.
The allied Sudanese opposition considers a “constitutional national dialogue” as the basis for a peaceful regime-change and the rebuilding of Sudan on democratic principles and equal citizenship. The AU Peace and Security Council backed this “holistic approach” in its 539th meeting on 25 Augustus.
The AU Council called for “an urgent pre-National Dialogue meeting” of the Sudanese government and the opposition in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the AUHIP. Khartoum, however, repeated its stance that a national dialogue can only take place within the country.
The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) agreed on a new road map mid-September. The rebel alliance is prepared to sign a six-month agreement for a cessation of hostilities for the protection of civilians, providing unhindered humanitarian assistance, and creating a conducive environment for the peace process and the “National Constitutional Dialogue”.
The rebels further stressed that they will not consider participating in a national dialogue that is arranged solely by the ruling party.
On 22 September Al Bashir issued two presidential decrees declaring a general amnesty for all Sudanese rebel leaders who will attend the dialogue in Khartoum and a two-month ceasefire in the country, in an attempt to create a conducive climate for the dialogue.
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