The ‘Troika’ of Norway, the United Kingdom and the USA, have welcomed the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Roadmap that was signed by chief mediator Thabo Mbeki and the Sudanese government in Addis Ababa two weeks ago, called on the government for clarity, and urge the opposition movements to endorse the agreement.
In a joint statement on Saturday, the Troika urges the Sudanese government “to clarify commitments on National Dialogue, and encourage opposition to subsequently sign”. The statement also expresses “deep concern” about the recent increase in hostilities in Blue Nile state and South Kordofan, and urge “restraint” and a “cessation of hostilities” by all parties.
The opposition Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), and the National Umma Party (NUP), all refused to sign the agreement proffered to all parties at a consultative meeting in the Ethiopian capital on 21 March.
They cite factors such as the ongoing conflict in Darfur and the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile states), as well as disagreement with the government on whether to hold the National Dialogue in Sudan or abroad, among impediments to signing the agreement.
“The Troika supports the efforts of AUHIP to create a Roadmap Agreement for ending conflict in Sudan,” Saturday’s statement reads.
“While we welcome the Government of Sudan’s signing of the Roadmap agreement, we urge the Government to clarify its commitments regarding the inclusion of other relevant stakeholders in the National Dialogue and to uphold the results of any National Dialogue preparatory meetings arranged by the AUHIP between the 7+7 Committee and opposition groups.
“Once that is done, we would urge the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), and the National Umma Party (NUP) to sign the Roadmap.
Genuine political dialogue
“If agreed to by all parties to the conflicts, the AUHIP Roadmap could allow genuine political dialogue at both regional and national levels that is needed to address the underlying causes of the armed conflicts that have plagued Sudan for so long.
“We are deeply concerned about the increase in fighting between government forces and the SPLM-N in both Blue Nile and South Kordofan and urge both sides to show restraint and avoid ambushes, military offensives, rocket attacks, and aerial bombardments that negatively affect civilian populations.
Cessation of hostilities
“We call on both sides to renew their unilateral cessation of hostilities commitments and to fully respect those commitments in order to create a more conducive environment for implementation of the AUHIP Roadmap. There is no military solution to Sudan’s conflicts. Further violence only serves to increase the suffering of the Sudanese people. The Troika countries call on all parties at conflict in Sudan to seize this opportunity to end the wars and find a path towards lasting peace,” the statement concludes.
In an interview with Radio Dabanga following the meeting, SLM-MM leader Minni Arko 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.
In a separate interview with Radio Dabanga, SPLM-N leader Malik Agar, stressed that they will not sign the document, “regardless of the pressures exerted”.
Agar said that “our ultimate goal is peace in Sudan – which this document will not achieve”.
He called for all Sudanese opposition forces “to unite in accordance with the National Dialogue roadmap for the coordination of the peace negotiations process, agreed upon by everyone, and that will definitely lead to the cessation of hostilities”.