Home | News    Thursday 2 April 2015

AUHIP suspends Sudan’s pre-dialogue meeting in Ethiopia

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April 1, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) announced that it has indefinitely suspended the pre-dialogue preparatory meeting that was scheduled to take place this week after the government and its affiliated political parties refused to attend.

File Photo - AU mediator Thabo Mbeki (AP)

The panel led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki had invited parties participating in the national dialogue process launched by Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir last January as well as non-participants that include rebel groups.

In a statement, AUHIP recalled that it consulted with all stakeholders including the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the 7+7 mechanism of the national dialogue.

Initially the 7+7 was comprised of the NCP and allied political forces including the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), former Darfur rebels from one side and the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Popular Congress Party (PCP) Reform Now Movement (RNM) and Just Peace Forum (JPF).

However, three opposition forces - NUP, RNM and JPF - suspended their participation in the national dialogue mechanism to protest the refusal of the ruling party to implement a number of measures related to the creation of a conducive environment for the process.

“On the basis of those consultations, the AUHIP invited the stakeholders for the meeting in Addis Ababa on 30 and 31 March, and proposed an agenda which focused solely on the procedural and process issues” the AUHIP statement reads.

“Despite initially indicating that they would respond positively to the Panel’s invitation to participate in the Addis Ababa meeting, key representatives of the “7+7 mechanism” later cited several impediments their attendance of the meeting”.

The 7+7 told AUHIP that several of its members are occupied with the upcoming general elections and also expressed concern that the meeting might be used by some participants “to raise other matters outside of the agreed agenda on process issues”.

“The Panel responded to these concerns by reassuring the stakeholders that the agenda for the meeting was indeed restricted to process issues; that the meeting would be attended only by representatives of the key stakeholders who had agreed to participate in the National Dialogue; and, that the parties were at liberty to compose their delegations as they saw fit”.

“Regrettably, the Panel’s assurances and interactions with the stakeholders did not result in a change of heart by the group”.

AUHIP emphasised “without the full participation of all the key stakeholders, particularly the governing party, it is simply not possible to hold inclusive and credible preparations for the Dialogue as initially envisaged”.

“Consequently, and regrettably, the AUHIP has had no choice but to suspend the holding of the pre-Dialogue meeting”.

MBEKI MEETS OPPOSITION DELEGATION

However, Mbeki held discussions with the delegates of Sudan Call forces who arrived in Addis Ababa including NUP chief al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and chairman of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) Malik Agar.

Agar said that they conveyed to Mbeki their full support for peaceful resolution of the conflict in Sudan through "dialogue and debate" and expressed their "disappointment" over the government’s refusal to participate in the meeting.

"We discussed that holding elections before the national dialogue would be the end of AUHUP work over the [last] four years and there must be new ways to address the issues of Sudan," Agar said.

He said that all this depends on Mbeki’s report to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the peace process in Sudan.

The SRF chairman said they were willing to contribute to changing the situation by announcing the possibility of discussing ceasefire for humanitarian issues and opening corridors to deliver aid and stopping aerial bombardment as a priority.

Agar said that the old way of mixing political and security issues resulted in poor conditions of civilians in war zones that are deteriorating thus require decoupling political and security tracks.

He also said they are prepared to discuss the issues of public freedoms on the basis of their contribution to the creation of a favourable environment for dialogue.

For his part, al-Mahdi, commended AUHIP for not allowing any party "to veto the peace process in Sudan".

He said that he presented a proposal to Mbeki to transition from the current framework to a new one but he did not elaborate.

Al-Mahdi said the meeting is an opportunity to confirm that "mo matter how the NCP position is twisted, our position is commitment to a political solution and we believe that any attempt to resolve these issues militarily as does the NCP will fail".

Yasser Arman, secretary-general of the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), blamed the NCP for failure of the AUHIP meeting.

"The National chose war over peace and chose to continue its totalitarian and solitary approach rather than dialogue" Arman said.

AUHIP said it will also hold consultations with representatives of the international community before considering its next steps.

Last week, the office of US Vice President Joe Biden said that he called Mbeki and discussed with him "the importance of establishing one nation-wide approach to ending the conflicts in Sudan" and "the urgent need for continued pressure on the Sudanese government and opposition leaders, as well as civil society groups, to begin the process of a national dialogue".

"The Vice-President emphasised that African Union leadership will be crucial to promoting inclusive governance, ensuring respect for human rights, and urgently bringing the conflicts in Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, and Darfur to a peaceful end. They agreed to continue closely coordinating African Union and U.S. efforts".

(ST)

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