January 15, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese First Vice-President Ali Osman Taha renewed government calls on the opposition parties to participate in a dialogue over major national issues and reiterated the commitment of his government to pay two billion dollars for Darfur reconstruction.
- Ali Osman Mohamed Taha (Reuters)
Taha made these remarks in a speech he delivered in Nyala on Wednesday at the inauguration ceremony of Darfur Regional Authority Council (DRA Council), the legislative body of the region as provided in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).
In accordance with the DDPD, signed in July 2011 with the former rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) of Tijani Al-Sissis, the government is committed to pay two billion dollars to the regional authority in several installments to prepare and enforce the return of displaced people and refugees, among others.
However, due to the severe economic crisis the country is experiencing and the allocation of the meager resources to war against the rebel groups in Darfur and South Kordofan, the government failed to meet its commitments.
In his speech, Taha disclosed that the Ministry of Finance and National Economy has issued a letter of guarantee to the Central Bank of Sudan to dedicate 800 million Sudanese pounds (about $130 million) for recovery, construction projects and preparation for the return of displaced persons and refugees in Darfur.
He further said that the Sudanese budget for 2013, despite the economic crisis, includes clear commitment to honor the national government obligations towards Darfur authority . He pointed out that the government also took the necessary steps to establish the Darfur Development Bank, adding its project will be tabled in parliament during its coming session.
Many donors including the U.S. and the European Union blamed Khartoum for not honoring its financial commitments towards the RDA and said they would not take part in a donor conference for Darfur before the payment of the money needed to start the repatriation of refugees and organize the return of displaced persons to their villages.
The move forced the host country, Qatar, to delay the donor conference which was scheduled for January 2013.
Speaking at the same event, Al-Sissi, who chairs the DRA, said that the non-payment of money delayed the implementation of the DDPD. He emphasized that they are now in the second year since the signing of the peace document but Khartoum did not yet disburse the installments of first year.
The opening of the DRA Council which is composed of 67 members was attended by several ministers and governors besides foreign ambassadors in Khartoum.
The regional legislative body will examine and vote the law projects and other legislative measures, but it is also supposed to monitor and control the DRA in the enforcement of peace in Darfur.
The DRA Council also should establish a committee for the preparation of a Constitution of the Darfur Region if a majority of Darfurians vote for the creation of one region in a referendum to be organized about this issue.
Ali Osman also called on the opposition parties to participate in a national dialogue about the major issues in the country like Darfur crisis and the new constitution after the impendence of South Sudan.
Taha’s call comes after several opposition forces like the Umma National Party and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) distanced themselves from the New Dawn Charter which was inked in Kampala on 5 January.
However, the opposition forces demand that a national unity government be formed besides a parliament including all the political forces before to engage a national dialogue over the constitution and the ongoing crisis in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.
On Wednesday, Vice-President Al-Haj Adam Youssef praised the opposition for rejecting Kampala agreement.
Also, a committee to contact the opposition parties on the new constitution announced they would meet PCP leader Hassan Al-Turabi to stand on his vision of the constitution. The panel heded by Abdel-Rahman Swar Al-Dahab already met with Umma leader Sadiq Al-Mahdi.