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Sudan’s Hamdok pledged to reshuffle negotiating team: SPLM-N says

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Hamdok and al-Hilu sign a Joint Agreement on the peace talks on 3 September 2020 (ST photo)September 5, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok pledged to replace the negotiating delegation headed by the General Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Daglo "Hemetti" with new faces, said a prominent SPLM-N leading member.

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and SPLM-N leader Abdel Aziz Al-Hilu held a four-day meeting in Addis Ababa which resulted in a preliminary agreement to address differences on the secular state and the right to self-determination.

"The prime minister pledged to reshuffle the negotiating team and appoint its members of the Council of Ministers," said Mohamed Youssef al-Mustafa a leading member of the rebel delegation who was speaking to Sudan Tribune after his participation in the meeting with Hamdok.

Hamdok who is tasked with the peace file according to the constitutional document conferred the leadership of the government negotiating team to Hemetti together with two other members of the Sovereign Council, a civilian and one military.

On 22 August, the South Sudanese mediation suspended the peace talks when the SPLM-N al-Hilu withdrew from the negotiating table to protest Hemetti’s leadership of government negotiating delegation pointing to attacks by his groups on civilians in the Two Areas and Darfur.

The meeting was the first after a long period of suspension due to the failure of the parties to move forward after an agreement on 18 October 2019 to discuss the political issues first, following by the humanitarian and the security arrangements.

Al-Mustafa further said they agreed with Hamdok to stop using the term secularism and to stop it with separation of religion and the state.

"The SPLM gave up speaking about secularism because of popular opposition to the term and (agreed to) replace it with the separation of religion from the state, which includes all the requirements contained in the secularism," he said adding it was one of the understandings with Hamdok

Sudanese political forces usually avoid using the term secular state or secularism because of its negative connotation and its association with the removal of Islamic principles from the legal sphere.

Instead, they often speak about the civilian state. In 2014, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi head of the National Umma Party said disposed to include a paragraph about the secular state in what has become later known as Paris Declaration signed with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front.

However, the paragraph was removed from the final text because Abdel Wahid al-Nur who was a member of the rebel umbrella insisted on the term secular state.

He said that al-Hilu and SPLM-N delegation currently in Addis Ababa will travel to Juba on Monday to prepare for the resumption of peace talks with the government.

However, he refused to give a date for the resumption of negotiations, stressing that the matter depends on the change of the government delegation.

According to the Joint Agreement signed on 3 September, the parties have to hold informal discussions on the separation of religion and the state before to resume officials negotiations.

(ST)

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