Tag Archives: Sudan

Sudan – government bombing continues in South Kordofan mountains

Guardian

Sudan: bombings force children out of classroom and into camps

Renewed violence in South Kordofan is robbing a new generation of their education, former students and teachers tell Nuba Reports

Children play in the mountains outside of Tess, South Kordofan, Sudan.
Children play in the mountains outside of Tess, South Kordofan, Sudan. Photograph: Adriane Ohanesian/AFP

With every year and every lesson missed, the hopes for a new generation – nurtured in brief peace between 2005 and 2011 – are fading.

Howa James is one of this generation. Before the conflict between Sudan’s armed forces and Nuban rebels reignited in the Nuba Mountains in June 2011, Howa was a student at the Girls’ Peace High School in Kauda. Peace High School is a boarding school, but Howa’s family lives next door, so teachers allowed her to sleep at home.

Howa loved her time at Peace High. As the war intensified, she and her classmates tried to continue on with their lives. But they soon found themselves caught in the middle.

“I heard the sound of the jet and when I looked up, I saw the plane dropping bombs on me,” she said. “I didn’t have time to run but I found a small hole near me and I got in it. The bomb exploded 10 metres from me.”

Howa told her story as she stood next to the huge crater created by a bomb that nearly killed her. She hasn’t been to school since that day over two years ago.

Destruction of schools

Education is at the core of the Nubans’ cultural values. For all the damage war has done in the Nuba Mountains, the destruction and shuttering of the schools have hit the communities hardest.

I heard the sound of the jet and when I looked up, I saw the plane dropping bombs

Before the war, hundreds of members of a community would volunteer their time, money and crops to build and fund community schools and their students. Towns even pooled funds to fly in teachers from Kenya.

Early in the war, students would sit for final examinations with a rock on their desk. If an Antonov bomber flew overhead, the rock held their papers in place while they hid in foxholes.

At the end of each year, the schools would hold a celebration for the entire village. The teachers call the students’ names one by one and present them with handwritten certificates confirming they’ve passed their classes.

As the name of each child is called, their parents run and dance towards them. The mother sings a song praising the child, and the father slaps five Sudanese pounds ($1) to their head. The note sticks to the student’s scalp as if they are wearing a crown for their achievements. For many communities these celebrations have stopped and it is no longer safe to bring in teachers.

Aerial bombardment

Before the war, there were 255 schools in the Nuba Mountains. Now there are less than 100. None are able to provide the same level of education as they did before the war. There are not enough teachers to provide instruction for all eight grades, books are rare and there are few resources to help with lessons.

According to Tajani Tima, minister of education for the insurgent group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North (SPLM-N), 10 national and international organisations were supporting education in the region but now only two of these organisations are willing to help the schools.

Before the war, there were 255 schools in the Nuba Mountains. Now there are less than 100

“The education budget for the state is significantly lower than years of peace,” Tajani said. “Teachers have fled the region and there is a high student dropout rate because most schools can’t continue to operate due to the ground fighting and increased bombing.”

Many schoolyards within the SPLM-N controlled areas have been targeted by the Sudanese government in its near-daily aerial bombardment. Bombs have landed near the Girls’ Peace High School on several occasions. But on the morning of 29 December 2012, an Antonov flew over, dropping bombs and finally hitting the school.

Jawahir Yusif was studying there at the time. “Six bombs were dropped on the school. It destroyed one of the classrooms and the dormitories for the girls,” she said, adding:

“The students and teachers are scared that if the government hears that many people are in one location like the school that they will send a plane to bomb us.”

School officials said they had no choice but to shut down.

Refugee Schools

The only other option for many students are the refugee camps across the new border in South Sudan. Families have sent their children hundreds of kilometres to Yida, home to over 70,000 refugees from South Kordofan.

According to UNHCR, Yida is too close to the Sudanese border and the conflict the refugees left behind. Unless the camp can be moved further south, the organisation says it cannot provide education.

Refugee children copy notes from a chalkboard during an open-air English lesson under a tree at the Yida camp in South Sudan. As there are no schools in the camp, refugees have organised themselves, making a few primary schools with volunteer refugee teachers to educate the children.
Refugee children copy notes from a chalkboard during a makeshift open-air English lesson under a tree at the Yida camp in South Sudan. Photograph: Reuters

The only schools operating in Yida camp are elementary schools that have been started by the refugees themselves with minimal outside funding. These schools serve thousands of students under trees and small grass huts and do not have the resources to pay their teachers well or provide textbooks. Still, the students walk days to the camps at the start of each term and sit in the sweltering heat for a chance to learn.

UNHCR does support elementary and high school education in the Ajoung Thok Camp about 60 km from Yida. Despite the efforts of UNHCR to convince the refugees to move from Yida to Ajoung Thok most families have been reluctant. Only around 13,000 have settled in in Ajuong Thok. Some students opt to go there without their families but there still aren’t enough schools for all the students in Yida or South Kordofan who need education.

The Next Generation

No matter how difficult it may be, people are determined to educate their children. Oum Juma worked as a teacher in Yida during it’s first year of existence. Like many teachers here, she refuses to let the conflict take her daughter’s childhood the way the earlier conflict, Africa’s longest-running civil war, took hers. She was separated from her family by Sudan’s war with the south, which ran from 1983 to 2005 and eventually saw South Sudan split from the north in 2011.

I just focus on these children. I want them to know right from wrong

She was raised and educated in a missionary school, and didn’t see her mother until after the peace deal in 2005. Since then, she’s become a mother herself. When fighting broke out again she fled the carnage with her infant child. She made it to Yida, but her husband disappeared.

“My whole life has been war, since I was a child, 24 years – that’s how old I am,” she said. “I just focus on these children. I want them to know right from wrong.”

For all that she has experienced Oum Juma does not want revenge. She believes education can bring peace to her children and the next generation of Nubans.

“Education cannot stop the war, but this generation must understand the problems. The children may say my mother was killed and now I want revenge. ‘I want to kill those who killed my mum,’ – an eight year old thinks this. But that thinking just starts another war. If they understand they can think of a new future, there are many ways of solving problems.” Guardian

Sudan – floods disrupt schools and isolate villages in Khartoum region

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Khartoum state has declared a state of high alert following heavy rains which hit the capital on Wednesday.

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A Sudanese woman sits with her child next to her house in a flooded street on the outskirts of the capital Khartoum on 10 August 2013 (Photo: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)

Dozens of families in the west of Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman were seen carrying their belongings after their homes were destroyed by rain which amounted to 43 mm. Floods have also destroyed homes in villages and areas south of Omdurman.

Eastern parts of Omdurman also suffered from heavy rains and power outages and distress calls were heard in Al-Thawra neighbourhood. Fallen trees and shattered signboard impeded normal flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on public streets.
Khartoum state governor, Abdel-Rahman Al-Khidir, toured areas affected by floods in Um badda and Karrari neighbourhoods, announcing closing of schools for one week.

Al-Khidir declared a state of high alert and formed a 24-hour central emergency committee in the state’s 105 administrative unit besides giving localities the right to use heavy machinery to draw waters and clean up roads.

He also decided to put the civil defence and river rescue forces in a high of alert besides putting police in a %50 state of readiness of 50% in anticipation of emergency matters following weather forecast that heavy rains will continue until 11 August.

The governor also directed state’s authorities to supply affected families with sheeting and tents.

Khartoum state stressed in a press report that old and new water drains were able to discharge most of the waters, saying some lowlands and squares need additional work.

It underscored there were no casualties or serious damage to property, saying that primary outcome showed that 60 homes were completely or partially destroyed in Um Bada besides 10 others in Karrari.

The governor further called upon Khartoum residents to allow the concerned engineering bodies carry out their work and not to throw wastes on water drains.

The commissioner of Jebel Al-Awliya, al-Bashir Abu Kasawi, told the state-run radio of Omdurman that localities of Karrari, east Nile, and Jebel al-Awliya and other areas have been affected by rains and floods.

Sudan’s General Authority for Meteorology (GAM) said Khartoum state saw an increase of rainfall ranging from 60 to 110 mm which led to raising levels of the Nile waters, pointing the increase represent a real threat to residents of the White and Blue Nile banks.

Competent bodies have advised Khartoum state to carry out strategic plan to build permanent water drains, spray insecticides, and drying waters of public squares.

Heavy rains also isolated 15 villages in the locality of south Gazira in Gazira state.

Sudan’s president, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, was seen on Monday in a surprise inspection tour for construction works of a bridge in east Nile locality following heavy rains which hit Khartoum state on Saturday.

Heavy floods have been common in the past few years in Sudan’s east along the Blue Nile but happen more rarely in the capital and the north where much of Sudan’s population live.

Floods and rains that hit different areas in Sudan last year lead to the death of at least 38 people and injured dozens.

Rains which fell during the past few days have turned Khartoum into a pond of water amid widespread anger over what is perceived as an inadequate government response.

Meanwhile, the commissioner of south Gazira locality, Kambal Hassan al-Mahi, attributed isolation of these villages to poor drainage, saying walls and bathrooms of several homes and schools were destroyed by the rain.

He announced mobilization of all resources of the locality, state, and Gazira scheme board to rescue the isolated villages.

The commissioner of Al-Ghorashi locality in Gazira state, Abdel-Basit al-Dikhairi, for his part, announced collapse of 114 homes and several government buildings in 15 villages due to heavy rains in the past two days.

(ST)

Sudan – Turabi demands election delay until 2015

Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s PCP leader demands 2015 elections be delayed(KHARTOUM) – The leader of Sudan’s Popular Congress Party (PCP), Hassan al-Turabi, said his party participated in the national dialogue in order to return “power to the people”, disclosing he demanded the government to delay the 2015 elections.

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Head of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Hassan al-Turabi gestures during an interview in Khartoum on 3 October 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Turabi, who delivered a Eid al-Fitr sermon at a mosque in his native village on Monday, said they accepted president, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, initiative for national dialogue in order to return power to the Sudanese people, stressing he asked the government to extend elections date to allow political parties contact their bases.

Reliable sources from opposition side in the national dialogue committee known as 7+7 told Sudan Tribune that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) expressed reservation on issues of the transitional government and review of elections law while opposition forces insists on discussing these issues before the 2015 elections.

Sudan’s general elections are set to be held in April 2015 but opposition parties threatened to boycott it saying NCP holds absolute control over power and refuse to make any compromise to end the civil war and allow public liberties.

Sudan’s National Elections Commission (NEC) had previously said it received requests from political parties last April to delay elections.

The NEC chief, Mukhtar al-Asam, said they received requests for postponing elections from the PCP and the National Umma Party led by, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, due to financial difficulties and the country’s present circumstances.

He said the NEC agreed with these political parties on the possibility for postponing elections until improving their financial position.

However, after conflicting statements from government officials, Bashir emphasised that there will be no postponement for next year’s elections and even berated NCP officials who suggested otherwise.

Turabi urged residents of his village to properly choose their representative in the parliament, calling upon them to take elections seriously.

The veteran Islamic leader ruled out running in the upcoming elections, saying it must be fair and transparent.

He further demanded the government to allow neutral bodies oversee elections.
Last week, the 7+7 committee said it has partially agreed on a roadmap for a process to realise peace and democratic reforms.

Presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, said the committee agreed to more than %90 of the roadmap, noting the framework agreement would be completed no later than Eid al-Fitr [feast of breaking the fast of Ramadan] holiday.

He expressed optimism that political forces would confidently move towards the national dialogue.

Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalizing national identity.

He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last April with the participation of 83 political parties.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.

The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.

Bashir at the time instructed authorities in the states and localities across Sudan to enable political parties to carry out their activities inside and outside their headquarters without restrictions except those dictated by the law.

The Sudanese president also pledged to enhance press freedom so that it can play its role in the success of the national dialogue unconditionally as long they abide by the norms of the profession.

Political detainees who have not been found to be involved in criminal acts will be released, Bashir said

But since then, Sudanese authorities arrested al-Mahdi and the head of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) Ibrahim al-Sheikh. It also intensified its censorship of newspapers by either suspension or shutting down the entire media houses.

The NUP suspended its participation in national dialogue following detention of its leader in May after he criticised government militia, accusing them of committing war crimes in Darfur. After his release in June, Mahdi said there is a need to review the current process and to include rebels in the political process.

The PCP refused to suspend its participation in the national dialogue, saying all current difficulties can be resolved within the existing mechanisms.

(ST)

Sudan – Bashir denounces criticism of RSF and says he will end “tribal” conflicts

Sudan Tribune

July 13, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, has renewed promise to end rebellion and tribal conflicts in the country by the end of 2014 and denounced criticism directed to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) from some political forces.

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Sudan’s president Omer Hassan al-Bashir delivers a speech on 27 January 2014 in the capital, Khartoum (Photo: AFP/Ebrahim Hamid)

Bashir, who received from the speaker of the parliament, Alfatih Izz al-Din, on Sunday the parliament’s response to the letter he tabled at the National Assembly, praised efforts of the Sudanese army and other regular forces in defending the country.

He further strongly defended the RSF, saying they defeated rebel groups in several areas in Darfur and South Kordofan.

“They [RSF] offered 163 martyrs and several of wounded within five months only to defend the country,” he added.

The Sudanese president denounced criticism of the RSF by some political forces, saying the latter turned a blind eye on the violations committed by the rebel forces in the localities of Haskanita, Al-li’ait Jar Alnabi, Altiwaisha, and Kalmando in North Darfur.

The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilized by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.

The militia was reactivated and restructured again in August 2013 under the command of NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.

Sudanese authorities arrested leaders of two opposition parties recently after accusing the RSF of committing serious abuses in conflict zones.

ELECTIONS TO BE HELD AS SCHEDUELD

The Sudanese president on Sunday also directed the National Elections Commission (NEC) to make the necessary arrangements for holding elections in April 2015, saying it is a constitutional requirement and there is no reason for delaying it.

Sudan’s opposition parties call for forming a transitional government and holding a national conference with the participation of rebel groups to discuss a peaceful solution for the conflicts in Darfur region, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states.

The interim government would organize general elections once a political agreement on constitutional matters is reached, inaugurating a new democratic regime. But the NCP rejects this proposal saying opposition parties must simply prepare for the 2015 elections and that rebels should sign first peace accords.

Last week, Bashir issued presidential decrees appointing NEC chief, deputy chairman, and two other members.

The Sudanese parliament also passed amendments to the 2008 elections law amid accusations by opposition that the government plans to rig the election process through the new law.

Bashir said the amended electoral law would allow all political forces to be presented in the parliament.

Under the amended law, the percentage of proportional representation according to the draft bill went up from 40% to 50% with an increase in the minimum allocated for women from 25% to 30% and for the party representation list from 15% to 20%.

Bashir underscored commitment to widen the circle of political practice and allow public freedoms according to the law and without infringing on the rights of other people and public rights.

He called upon MPs to focus on resolving problems facing Sudan on top of which are the tribal conflicts which is fuelled by the enemies of the country.

Bashir renewed Sudan’s adherence to its principles, saying the country was targeted since a long time ago due to its geographical location

(ST)

Sudan – Mahdi’s Umma Party sets conditions for dialogue

Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s NUP to set new conditions for resuming participation in the national dialogue


June 18, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s opposition National Umma Party (NUP) has suggested that it intends to set new conditions in order to resume participation in the national dialogue stressing that this process cannot start from the point where it stopped prior to the arrest of its leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi.

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Opposition leader of Umma Party and Sudan’s former Prime Minister al-Sadiq al-Mahdi at his home in Omdurman after he was released, June 15, 2014 (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

The NUP suspended participation in the dialogue last month to protest al-Mahdi’s arrest and what it said was a government crackdown on political and media liberties.

Al-Mahdi was arrested on May 17th for criticizing alleged crimes and atrocities committed by the Rapid Support Force (RSF) government militia in conflict zones.

He was released on Sunday and the state media said the move was done after al-Mahdi’s lawyers appealed to the justice minister Mohamed Bushara Dousa to use his powers under article (58) of Sudan’s penal code which allows him to stop criminal proceedings against any suspect at any point before being sentenced by a court.

It carried a statement by NUP Central Commission stating that they support the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and said that what al-Mahdi mentioned regarding RSF is derived from complaints and claims “that are not necessarily all true”.

However, several NUP leaders including Meriam al-Mahdi denied offering an apology, describing the statement attributed to the NUP Central Commission as “fake”. However the opposition party has yet to formally deny its authenticity.

The NUP said in a statement on Wednesday that its call for national dialogue was driven by strategic and circumstantial reasons relating to the dangers facing the country, adding that it joined the government’s initiative for dialogue with great enthusiasm and urged all political parties to join as well.

“Following this bitter experience [of arresting al-Mahdi] things cannot begin where it stopped and a genuine review for the reasons behind the failure of the government’s call for dialogue must be conducted in order to determine who is responsible for that failure”, the statement reads.

The NUP emphasized in the statement that it does not react impulsively but has a strategic view which is based on the national interest of the country, reiterating commitment to establishing a new regime without resorting to violence or seeking foreign support.

The NUP further mentioned that the new regime will be established through direct contact with all Sudanese parties inside the country and abroad in order to achieve national objectives including full democratic transition and comprehensive and just peace.

The statement thanked all those who supported al-Mahdi during his prison time, saying they are confident the Sudanese people and political parties would facilitate the NUP mission of reaching a unified national position to achieve the country’s national interests.

MEETING OF THE DIALOGUE’S MECHANISM

Meanwhile, the leading figure in the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Qutbi al-Mahdi, announced that the dialogue mechanism would meet soon in order to prepare for launching the political process with the participation of all components of society.

The dialogue mechanism, which is headed by president Omer Hassan Bashir, includes seven members from the government side and an equal number from the opposition. The mechanism work was suspended following arrest of al-Mahdi.

Al-Mahdi told the government sponsored Sudan Media Center (SMC) website that the dialogue will not be confined to political parties, saying it will include civil society organizations, women groups, students, workers and craftsmen, and national personalities.

He further said that issues raised by the opposition parties which refused to participate in the national dialogue must be discussed in the dialogue not prior to it.

Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalizing national identity.

He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last month with the participation of 83 political parties.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.

The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.

(ST)

Sudan – NCP says al-Mahdi arrested for criticising government militias and abuse

Sudan Tribune

NCP says al-Mahdi arrested over negative remarks against government militia


 (KHARTOUM) – The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) declared that the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, was not arrested for political or security reasons but summoned to complete investigations over a criminal complaint filed by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) this week.

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Sudan’s National Umma Party (NUP) leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi (AFP)

Al-Mahdi was questioned before state security prosecutors on Thursday regarding remarks he made accusing Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of committing serious abuses in conflict zones in Darfur and Kordofan including rape as well as looting and burning villages.

The veteran politician and former prime minister was taken into custody on Saturday night from his house and sent to the notorious Kober prison in Khartoum.

Al-Mahdi’s lawyer, Satie’ al-Hag, said his client faces charges of undermining the constitutional order and using force against the regime, saying those charges are punishable by death if convicted.

NCP spokesperson Yasser Yussef was quoted by state media as saying that new charges were filed against al-Mahdi that would not allow him to be released by personal recognizance.

Nonetheless, Yussef said that because of his age, status and national contributions al-Mahdi was not held in regular police docks but sent to Kober prison which he said offers better conditions until he is referred to court.

He noted that al-Mahdi repeated his allegations against the RSF, stressing that the NCP wished that things would not reach this stage.

The NCP spokesperson emphasised that the armed forces and national security institutions should be respected and kept away from political bickering.

The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilised by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.

The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the command of NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.

Sudanese officials say the RSF is part of the NISS but operationally follow the army.

The NUP chief noted out that the Sudanese security apparatus violates the constitution by establishing militias even though its mandate is limited to gathering and analysing intelligence.

He went on to say his remarks were based on factual information he obtained from sources in the region as well as from records of 220 police complaints filed by the locals in the towns of El-Obeid and Abu-Zabad in North Kordofan state.

The former Prime Minister came under fire from Sudanese lawmakers this week who said his remarks amount to treason and belittling the armed forces.

LENGTHY INTERROGATION

The NUP leading figure and al-Mahdi’s daughter, Mariam said her father went through lengthy interrogation since Sunday morning, adding that she does not know the outcome of those investigations.

She disclosed that an NUP delegation met with the head of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki, and informed him of the party’s decision to suspend participation in the national dialogue process and conditions for its resumption.

Mariam claimed that Mbeki expressed disappointment for al-Mahdi’s arrest and revealed ongoing efforts on his part to meet him in the prison.

The NUP secretary-general, Sara Nugdalla, read to reporters on Sunday a message sent by al-Mahdi from his prison in which he announced suspension of his party’s participation in the national dialogue.

He pointed to a statement he made on Thursday in which he said that government’s aggression wouldn’t dissuade him from seeking political solution, stressing he will not deal with the situation impulsively.

“However, the aggression of some government institutions against us and procedures imposed upon us by government hawks make us review the whole situation in order to determine requirements of the political solution and ways for achieving them”, he added

In his statement, al-Mahdi said that as of late many accused him of “selling the cause” after his son Abdel-Rahman became president Omer Hassan al-Bashir assistant “even though he does not represent me or the party in this [position].

He pointed out that his move towards national dialogue with the regime is another reason that made people think he is appeasing the NCP.

“But what I am subjected to from aggression is the [godly] means to clear my position of any suspicion, and enforce our viewpoint to become a station of popular political consensus,” al-Mahdi wrote.

The NUP leader called upon opposition forces to form a wide alliance including all political and civil forces in order to demand allowing public freedoms.

Nugdalla, for her part, directed harsh criticism at the government and the NCP, saying arrest of al-Mahdi reveals the true face of the regime and its position toward democracy.

She emphasized that al-Mahdi’s statements with regard to the RSF reflect the position of the NUP, announcing mobilisation among its religious wing, Ansar sect in order to confront the oppression.

The NUP deputy chairman, Fadlallah Burma Nasser, described the detention of Al-Mahdi as “setback” for the national dialogue, particularly as the latter’s strategy for resolving issues through dialogue can’t be implemented in an atmosphere of mistrust and oppression.

He added that dialogue would only be held when its requirements are met, pointing to the need for creating environment conducive for dialogue and building trust among the Sudanese people without exclusion.

The representative of the Arab Ba’ath Party (ABP) at the opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), Mohamed Diaa Al-din, called upon opposition parties which agreed to take part in the national dialogue to follow the lead of the NUP and suspend their participation, saying it is a good opportunity to unify the opposition forces in order to overthrow the regime.

But the PCP’s political secretary, Kamal Omer Abdel-Salam, told Sudan Tribune that his party won’t suspend its participation in the dialogue despite its strong rejection of Al-Mahdi’s detention, disclosing ongoing contacts with the NCP to contain the crisis between the NUP and NISS.

He said his party agreed to take part in the dialogue because it is fully convinced it is the only way for resolving Sudan’s crisis, underscoring that the NUP is an important component of the dialogue process.

Abdel-Salam further demanded immediate release of al-Mahdi, urging the government not to deal with the latter by reactions.

He pointed that enticements between the NCP and the NUP wouldn’t push forward the national dialogue, saying the government could have responded to al-Mahdi’s accusations through the media instead of arresting him.

Last January, Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalising national identity.

He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last month with the participation of 83 political parties. The opposition National Umma Party (NUP) and the PCP are the only major opposition parties to accept Bashir’s call for national dialogue so far.

The NCF boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.

The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.

RSF DEPLOYED AROUND KHARTOUM

In a separate development, NISS director Mohamed Atta Abbas al-Moula on Sunday ordered three RSF brigades to deploy around the capital Khartoum and remain in a 100% state of readiness.

The Khartoum state police force on its end also announced that its forces elevated their degree of readiness to 100%.

No explanation was given for the decisions.

(ST)

Sudan and SPLM-N still at odds over peace process

Sudan Tribune
Government, SPLM-N still at odds over ways to achieve peace in Sudan

April 25, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Peace talks between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) have once again stalled over the failure of the two parties to reach a framework agreement for direct negotiations.

The negotiating teams are in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa since 22 April, as the chief mediator, Thabo Mbeki, gave them an amended version of his initial draft framework agreed that he had delivered on 18 February before to suspend the discussions two weeks after.

Since Wednesday evening reports emerging from the venue of the talks said the positions of the two delegations are still quite far apart. The SPLM-N sticks to its demand for a comprehensive process while Khartoum team say there are ready to negotiate a solution for the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

In a meeting held on Wednesday, Thabo Mbeki proposed that the two delegations form three commissions to discuss the security arrangements, humanitarian assistance, and political issues related to the Two Areas. Besides that he proposed a fourth panel to discuss the national dialogue process.

The mediator seemingly wanted to bring the two parties to limit their discussions within the framework of his mandate as defined by the African Union Peace and Security Council.

The Sudanese delegation renewed its support to the proposals Mbeki made saying iy was in line with its position.

“We immediately accepted the agenda (proposed by the meditaion) because it deals with the three humanitarian, political and security issues in the Two Areas and the national dialogue in Sudan,” said Ibrahim Ghandour, the head of the Sudanese government delegation after the joint meeting.

Ghandour told reporters that they agreed to task the mediation to draft a new paper including the outcome of the meeting and the draft framework agreement of 18 February. He further said they refused a proposal by the SPLM-N to include Darfur region in the agenda of the talks, and that the mediation endorsed their position.

However, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday, the SPLM-N spokesperson, Abdel Rahman Ardol, reaffirmed that his group sticks to the comprehensive solution and the “National constitutional dialogue” after agreeing on the conditions creating a conducive environment in the country.

Ardol further pointed out they proposed that the four commissions can only start their meetings after reaching a framework agreement, stressing that “it would be difficult for these commissions to work without reference points included in the framework agreement”.

The rebel official went to say they can accept that the political and security commissions engage in negotiations on the basis of the 28 June 2011 agreement, pointing out that Ghandour has accepted this condition.

“The SPLM-N SPLM reitrated that the political commission cannot start its activities without an agreement on the principles and roadmap of the national constitutional dialogue. This deal should also lead to a comprehensive cease-fire from Darfur to the Blue Nile including the South Kordofan,” the rebel spokesperson said.

The rebel group says they want to ensure that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) will not control the inclusive political process of national dialogue, and that its outcome would lead to a national transitional government not dominated by the ruling party.

Regarding the humanitarian panel, the rebel groups have demanded it take into consideration a ceasefire deal for the the Nuba Mountains struck by the Sudanese government and SPLM-N in 2002.

In accordance with the agreement brokered by Swiss-US mediators and signed in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, on 19 January 2002, the parties committed themselves to a renewable six-month ceasefire. Also the SPLM-N had the right to administrate areas where its troops were after their redeployment in line with the signed deal.

Last March, the head of the African Union (AU) mediation team, Thabo Mbeki, suspended negotiations and referred the matter to the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) for guidance, saying the SPLM-N, which demands a comprehensive peace, had refused a draft framework agreement aiming to settle the conflict in the Two Areas.

(ST)

20140425-155200.jpg
The head of the Sudanese government’s negotiating team, Ibrahim Gandour (R), speaks at the opening session of peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 13 February 2014. The SPLM’s Yasir Arman appears at the extreme left of the table, while the mediators and UN envoy are pictured in the middle (Photo: AUHIP)

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