(KHARTOUM) – The rebel alliance of Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) has revealed plans to hold an all-parties conference for the opposition forces in order to combine visions on Sudan’s future and adopt a unified political program prior to the convening of national dialogue.
- The speaker of the South African national assembly, Baleka Mbete (C), pictured with Malik Agar (R) and Yasir Arman (L) after a meeting on 22 September 2014 (Photo courtesy of the SPLM-N)
The SRF’s secretary of external affairs, Yasir Arman, told Sudan Tribune from South Africa on Tuesday that they are conducting extensive contacts to hold an all-parties conference for opposition forces, similar to that one which took place in the Eritrean capital of Asmara in June 1995.
“The conference seeks to reach a common vision and program and a national project which accommodates lessons from the experience of the cessation of South Sudan and provides a vision for building the country on new bases,” Arman said.
He stressed the move was dictated by the recent developments particularly after the signing of the “Agreement on National Dialogue and Constitutional Process” in Addis Ababa on 4 September and calls from the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) for a meeting of all Sudanese forces to agree on the agenda and timeframe of talks.
However, Arman did not elaborate on where and when the meeting will be held, but stressed that it will take place soon.
In a conference held in Asmara from 15 to 23 June 1995, Sudanese opposition forces gathered under the umbrella of the National Democratic Alliance for “the conference on fundamental issues” where it agreed on the right of self-determination for South Sudan, a programme for a transitional period, and general principles for a democratic, decentralised and secular rule in the country.
Arman praised the decisions of the AUPSC endorsed on 12 September on the national dialogue and the need for a comprehensive process to end war in South Kordofan, Blue Nile states and the Darfur region, as well as establish a democratic regime.
“The intervention of the African Union (AU) and the UN Security Council (UNSC) as facilitators and guarantors of the national constitutional process have transformed the role of the AU from a fire truck which seeks to achieve partial solutions to a sponsor for the comprehensive solution which links ending the war to democratic transformation,” he said.
In a release issued at the end of its 456th meeting on 12 September, the AUPSC provides to hold separate talks on a cessation of hostilities and security arrangements followed by a meeting in the AU headquarters gathering all the Sudanese political forces on agree on the agenda and principles of the dialogue process which will be organised inside the country.
The SRF official described this step as a great political development, which will maintain unity of the Sudan through a comprehensive solution, reiterating readiness to participate in a national dialogue conducted on an equal footing.
TALKS ON CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES
Arman, who is also the secretary-general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), welcomed efforts of the AU mediation on Sudan’s peace process, saying the SPLM-N is ready to engage in the next round of talks with the Sudanese government in Addis Ababa on 12 October to discuss a cessation of hostilities agreement in the Two Areas.
He underscored that this round of talks comes within the framework of the comprehensive peace process in accordance with the AU’s decisions at its 456th meeting, stressing they wouldn’t accept partial solutions for Sudan’s problems,
Earlier this month, the chairman of the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki, announced that Sudanese government delegations will hold parallel meetings with the SPLM-N on 12 October and another one with Darfur rebel groups on 15 October to discuss a cessation of hostilities agreement.
Mbeki added that the signing of a truce will pave the way for the rebels’ participation in the national dialogue.
The SRF initially demanded negotiations for a comprehensive humanitarian cessation of hostilities in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states, stressing the need to unify the two peace processes.
However, Khartoum insists on the importance to maintain the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) as basis for negotiations with the holdout rebels saying it already committed with two former rebel groups that inked the framework agreement.
BOYCOTT OF 2015 ELECTION
Arman pointed to recent statements by presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour rejecting the postponement of 2015 general elections and the formation of a transitional government, saying this would push opposition forces to work towards the prevention of elections through wider public action.
“No opposition party will participate in the coming election and these assertions were made in the Paris Declaration signed last August with leader of the National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, and also in the meeting held in London [ last August] between the SRF and the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader, Mohamed Osman al-Merghani,” he said.
He further described the relationship between the SRF and the opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) as “strategic”, saying they will not allow any party to manipulate it.
The SRF official mentioned previous meetings with the NCF chairman, Farouq Abu Issa, pointing to his recent phone conversation with the leader of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP), Ibrahim al-Sheikh, as well as a meeting with the NCF delegation in Addis Ababa recently.
The NCF refuses to take part in the national dialogue process, demanding greater public freedoms, the postponement of elections and a transitional period to implement the outcome of the dialogue process by a national cabinet.
VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA
Arman said their current visit to Johannesburg aims to learn from the South African experience of transition from the apartheid regime to the democratic system of governance besides urging the government in Pretoria to support recent decisions of the AU on Sudan’s national dialogue.
A delegation of the SPLM-N headed by its chairman, Malik Agar, is currently visiting South Africa to hold meetings with officials from the ruling African National Congress Party (ANC), as well as South African government and parliament.
The SPLM-N delegation on Monday met with the speaker of the South African parliament and the national chairperson of the ANC, Baleka Mbete, with Agar is expected to meet more officials in the Pretoria government and ruling party.
In a separate statement, SPLM-N negotiating team spokesperson Mubarak Ardul described the visit as a “qualitative shift” in relations of Sudan’s forces of change in general and particularly the SPLM-N with countries such as South Africa, which plays a significant and influential role in the course of events on the continent.