Home | News    Tuesday 22 March 2016

Sudan, AUHIP sign Roadmap Agreement, but opposition declines

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March 21, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA/KHARTOUM) - Sudanese government Monday signed a Roadmap Agreement concocted by the African Union mediators at the end of a three-day strategic meeting in Addis Ababa, but the opposition groups refrained from endorsing it.

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FILE - AUHIP chief Thabo Mbeki (R) with Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (L)

The framework deal seen by Sudan Tribune proposes the signing of a cessation of hostilities followed by separate talks on the Two Areas and Darfur. In addition, it provides that matters of national nature shall be discussed within the national dialogue process.

Also, it endorse the controversial National Dialogue Conference launched in Khartoum last in October but admits it was "not sufficiently inclusive as it did not include the (the four opposition groups) participating in the strategic meeting".

The signing ceremony was attended by the mediation team and the Sudanese government delegation. Presidential Assistant and head of negotiating team on the conflict in the Two Areas Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid signed for the government and AUHIP chief Thabo Mbeki signed for the mediation.

Speaking at a press conference held after the signing of the roadmap, Mbeki underscored that for the first time this roadmap paves the way for the signing of a cessation of hostilities and the start of political negotiations.

He said during the past years Khartoum refused to engage in political talks before striking a deal on the ceasefire but now the government accepts to discuss with the armed groups before such condition.

"So now what has been agreed is that this truce should be synchronized. So that as you are moving to end the war we are also moving with the political discussions. But nobody was asked to lay down weapons before to know what the political result will be".

He called on the rebel groups to sign this agreement stressing that the government and the SPLM-N were during five years discussing on this point, adding the roadmap finally opens the way to end war and to reach civilians in the conflict affected areas.

Sudanese army and hardliners in the government rejected the 28 June 2011 framework agreement to end the armed clashes in South Kordofan saying they cannot accept that the SPLM-N fighters keep their weapons during the negotiations and demanded that they should be disarmed first before talks.

On the national dialogue, the chief mediator who repeatedly stressed on the need to end war and relieve Sudanese from its disasters, said the mediation seeks to ensure the inclusivity of this political process.

He added that he has a meeting in Khartoum Tuesday with the political opposition forces to discuss this matter and to ensure that the national dialogue be inclusive.

He also said the National Dialogue Coordination Committee (7+7) admitted during a meeting he held with them that the current process is not inclusive and accepted to meet the holdout forces to address this issue of inclusivity.

Accordingly, in the view of the chief mediator, the remaining differences are mainly about details particularly the venue of the meeting to discuss dialogue.

He stressed that a disagreement about the venue cannot justify the rejection of an agreement that opens the ways to stopping the killing.

"You cannot say we must delay ending this war" because of the venue he said, adding "It can’t be correct".

Mbeki who seemingly was upset by the continuation of his mediation since 2011 without tangible results said "there cannot be another five-year delay".

He said the armed opposition groups will hold consultations on the Roadmap Agreement and expressed hopes they will sign it later.

THE MEDIATION SIDING WITH THE GOVERNMENT

The armed and political opposition groups issued a joint statement where they said they came to the strategic meeting with an open mind, seeking Khartoum commitment to the decisions 539 and 556 of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the peace process and national dialogue.

They further accused the African Union mediators of siding with the government against them saying "The government and the mediation signed a roadmap siding with the government’s vision and does not respond to the legitimate aspirations of the people, in an attempt to break the will of the opposition parties and ignore the demands of our people for change".

The statement which was signed by the opposition NUP, JEM, SLM-MM and SPLM-N, stressed that the signed roadmap aims to bring the opposition to join the ongoing dialogue; a matter that will reproduce the regime and the political crisis.

Opposition groups are expected to develop their positions in separate statements, as some of them said they were willing to join it but they were surprised by the signing ceremony before further discussions with them.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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