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Sudan Tribune

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Bashir’s position on Islamic state threatens peace talks – Darfur rebels

December 21, 2010 (LONDON) — Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) slammed statements by Sudanese President over the instauration of an Islamic state in northern Sudan saying it might hinder peaceful settlement to the seven year conflict.

Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir (Reuters)
Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir (Reuters)

Sudanese government and JEM rebels started negotiations on a ceasefire agreement before to hold talks in order to reach a negotiated solution to the conflict. The rebel group delivered today its position on a draft ceasefire deal handed by the mediation.

“Bashir statements on an Islamic law state constitute a set back towards the instauration of a democratic state in the country but also send a negative signal to the process in Doha to end war in Darfur,” said JEM spokesperson Ahmed Hussein Adam.

“We reject any intention to establish a religious state in the Sudan. What Bashir said is a declaration of war against the non-Muslim Sudanese in South Kordofan and other parts of the country.”

“JEM’s fundamental position on this respect is opposed to the religious state and supportive to the citizenship state where the authorities are neutral towards the religion.”

Commenting on a video showing a woman being flogged by police, President Omer Al-Bashir rejected the widespread outcry and criticism stirred by the incident and said that after South Sudan secession the transitional constitution will be amended and Islamic law would be fully implemented.

“But the opaque talk [about] the Sudanese people I don’t know what…is multi-racial and multi-religious, the [Islamic] Shari’a will be the main source for lawmaking….and Arabic language will the official language of the state as will be stipulated in the upcoming constitution,” Bashir added.

Southern Sudanese are set to vote for secession within two weeks in a self-determination referendum. The southern Sudan ruling party, SPLM, blamed its peace partner, NCP, for refusing to establish a secular state in the whole country and put it as one of the reasons for its support of secession.

“The religious state is not compatible with Sudan’s diversity; it further represents a real challenge and threat to peaceful coexistence,” stressed JEM spokesperson.

Based on the principle of one state two systems, the current constitution recognizes the “multi-ethnic,” “multi-cultural” and “multi-faith” status of the Sudanese state. It is based on Islamic law, but also traditions and religious beliefs.

CEASEFIRE TALKS

JEM delegation handed on Tuesday its position on a ceasefire they are expected to reach within days with the government. The rebel group was reacting to a draft submitted by the mediation two days ago to the two parties.

Ahmed said that JEM in its paper stressed on the protection of displaced persons and civilians generally, the need to ensure full humanitarian access to the needy population, the release of political detainees and the implementation mechanism.

JEM and the Sudanese government signed in Doha two agreements: a goodwill agreement on February 17, 2009 and a framework agreement on February 23, 2010. The rebel group also unilaterally released more than once prisoners of war to show its commitment to the peace process.

However, Khartoum was very reluctant accept to release JEM members detained by the Sudanese authorities particularly those arrested after an attack against the capital Khartoum in May 2008.

The Sudanese officials in the past refused to agree on POW’s release saying a progress in peace talks and a signing of a ceasefire are necessary before.

(ST)