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Gov’t, SPLM-N launch workshop on relation state and religion in Sudan

SPLM-N al-Hilu team for the workshop on state and religion in Sudan in Juba on 29 October 2020 (ST photo)October 29, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government and the SPLM-N led by Abdulaziz al-Hilu on Thursday began the first round of informal discussions on the disputed issues including separation of state and religion to pave the way for a framework agreement on the agenda of the peace talks.

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and the SPLM-N’s leader, al-Hilu, reached an agreement on 3 September providing to hold informal workshops to end their differences on whether they include the relationship between the state in the peace talks or not. Also, they have to reach a joint understanding of this separation.

The peace talks had previously been stalled over the SPLM-N’s demand to include the secular state in the negotiations. The government refused this demand, saying the matter should instead be discussed in the constitutional conference.

"The informal dialogue workshop between the transitional government and the SPLM-North on the issue of the relationship between religion and the state has been launched in an attempt to break the deadlock and push the peace process forward," said the spokesperson for the SPLM-N negotiating team, Koko Mohamed Jagdoul, in a statement extended to the Sudan Tribune after the workshop which is taking place in Juba.

Jagdoul stressed the SPLM-N’s commitment to "radically addressing the issue of the relationship between religion and the state, closing the doors to the politicization of religion and its political exploitation."

He further expressed hope that the political platform of the transitional government will allow for "preserving the cohesion of Sudanese society and the voluntary unity based on new foundations."

A member of the government negotiating delegation, Shams al-Din Kabbashi, told the official Sudan News Agency that the workshop discussed the issue of religion and the state, as it is one of the controversial issues between the two parties.

He pointed out that the government delegation further proposed that the informal discussions include issues of the autonomous administration, protection, the unified army, and the cessation of hostilities.

Al-Kabbashi stressed that if "a consensus is reached on these three issues, it is possible to agree on a declaration of principles and sign it in preparation for the direct negotiations."