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SPLM-N al-Hilu to keep weapons until an agreement on secular state

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Hamdok and al-Hilu sign a Joint Agreement on the peace talks on 3 September 2020 (ST photo)September 3, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and SPLM-N leader Abdel Aziz al-Hilu agreed that the armed group will keep weapons until an agreement on the separation between religion and state.

Hamdok and al-Hilu issued a joint statement on Thursday night from Addis Ababa where they held an unannounced meeting to discuss ways to overcome the deadlock in the peace talks brokered by the South Sudanese government.

At the end of the two-day meeting, they issued a statement saying they agreed on several principles including the respect of the right to self-determination for the Two Areas.

"A democratic state must be established in Sudan. For Sudan to become a democratic country where the rights of all citizens are enshrined, the constitution should be based on the principle of "separation of religion and state" in the absence of which the right to self-determination must be respected," said the parties.

In this bilateral document, Hamdok accepted that calls for self-determination must be "respected" but not guaranteed.

Following what the deal provides that the status quo, including the "self-protection", will continue until security arrangements are agreed and until "separation between religion and state" is actualized.

Also, they reaffirmed the principle of no-return to war saying they agreed to "maintain the cessation of hostilities throughout the peace process until the security arrangements are agreed upon".

Hereunder the text of the agreement which is signed in presence of the head of the World Food Programme David Beasley, a close friend to Hamdok and al-Hilu alike.

Joint Agreement

We, Representatives of the Transitional Government of the Republic of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, affirm the following principles:

I. Sudan is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society. Full recognition and-accommodation of these diversities must be affirmed.

2. Complete political and social equalities of all peoples in Sudan must be guaranteed by law.

3. A democratic state must be established in Sudan. For Sudan to become a democratic country where the rights of all citizens are enshrined, the constitution should be based on the principle of "separation of religion and state" in the absence of which the right to self-determination must be respected. Freedom of belief and worship and religious practice shall be guaranteed in full to all Sudanese citizens. The state shall not establish an official religion. No citizen shall be discriminated against based on their religion.

4. The people of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile (the ..Two Areas") retain the status quo which includes self-protection until security arrangements are agreed upon by the parties to the conflict and until "separation between religion and state" is actualized.

5. The parties hereby agree to maintain the cessation of hostilities throughout the peace process until the security arrangements are agreed upon.

6. The principle of appropriate and fair sharing of power and wealth among the various people of Sudan must be realized through the constitution.

Signed at Addis Ababa this 3rd day of September 2020

(ST)

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