February 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The chairman of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki, has announced his intention to meet with leaders of the Darfur rebel groups in order to arrive at a comprehensive solution for Sudan’s problems.
- Chairman of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki (L) speaking to reporters alongside leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan al-Turabi in Khartoum February 26, 2014 (ST)
Mbeki held several meetings in Khartoum before leaving for Addis Ababa to run a new round of talks between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N).
He made this revelation in press statements following his meeting with the leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP), Hassan Al-Turabi.
Mbeki said he seeks to meet with the leader of Sudan Liberation Movement/AW (SLM-AW), Abdel-Wahid Mohamed Nur, leader of Sudan Liberation Movement/MM (SLM-MM) Minni Arko Minnawi and leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Jibril Ibrahim but did not mention the date and place of the meeting.
“I will meet them wherever it is possible, in Kampala or anywhere else”, he said
He said he discussed with Turabi the requirements for a national dialogue, noting that the PCP chief expressed enthusiasm towards the idea.
The African mediator added that he met with Turabi to listen to his view on president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir’s call for national dialogue underscoring that the opposition leader is an important political figure. He also emphasized that the African Union (AU) and the international community support efforts being made for achieving peace in Sudan.
“I was encouraged by Turabi’s response and felt he understands the need to arrive at radical, comprehensive, and permanent solutions to overcome challenges and problems facing Sudan”, Mbeki added.
He said he agreed with Turabi to continue consultations on new developments, affirming they seek to overcome challenges facing Sudan and ensure “turning words into deeds”.
Mbeki further said he felt a genuine desire from the political parties which he met in Khartoum to reach political accommodation, noting they would follow outcome of the dialogue with political forces and armed groups.
Although Turabi furnished Mbeki with a whole package of ideas and proposals for solving Sudan’s problems, both men preferred not to give details about them.
Mbeki said they agreed to keep contacts with other political parties and civil society organizations until achieving the comprehensive solution.
Turabi for his part said he told Mbeki that problems in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile are tied to the problems of the country in general, saying Sudan’s problems would only be resolved by adopting a holistic not partial approach.
He described the government’s approval for his meeting with Mbeki as new move that reflects “openness”, pointing he told the African mediator the PCP is open to the international community and doesn’t reject calls for dialogue.
Turabi stressed Mbeki’s keenness to meet with political parties is responding to a provision in the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2046 urging a comprehensive settlement in Sudan.
He noted the PCP agreed to engage in an unconditional dialogue with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in line with human and religious principles, saying he attended Bashir’s speech last month because he thought it would include new measures.
Late last month, Bashir delivered a speech in which he announced a four-point plan for reform "to stop the war and bring peace, free political society, fight against poverty and revitalize national identity", calling for political forces to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items though he did not specify practical steps to do so.
The long awaited speech that was expected to unveil a major reform proposal, created a wave of disappointment among those who followed it including opposition leaders who were present.
Opposition figures who were present made statements either personally or through their parties criticizing the lack of specifics and excessive generalities that gave no real signs of concessions on the part of the ruling party.
The PCP leader stressed no date has been yet determined for his upcoming meeting with Bashir and said he will meet him “someday”, affirming his agenda for dialogue with the NCP includes political freedoms, elections, constitution, economic conditions, and foreign relations.
He said he wouldn’t meet with Bashir by himself but among a delegation of his party, saying imposing preconditions means failure of the dialogue before it starts.
The Islamic leader also said his party sees the need for holding the national dialogue inside Sudan with the participation of all political parties and armed groups in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile in order to achieve political accommodation.
He called upon regional and international envoys to play a role in bridging distance among various Sudanese parties particularly the armed groups, stressing that bilateral negotiations between the government and the armed groups wouldn’t achieve peace and solve Sudan’s problems.
The PCP secretary of foreign relations, Bashir Adam Rahma, told reporters that the new round of talks between the government and the SPLM-N would focus on resolving security and humanitarian issues in South Kordofan and Blue Nile while the political issues in the two areas will be discussed within the framework of a comprehensive solution for Sudan’s problems.
“Now the international community understands that Sudan’s problems must be solved within a comprehensive framework”, he added
He considered the move responds to the opposition’s demands, saying the gap between the government and the armed groups and international community has narrowed after Bashir’s speech.
Rahma underscored that African efforts complements European Union (EU) moves to bring the Sudanese parties together, calling upon mediators to facilitate the national dialogue without intervening in it.
He noted the United States became convinced of the need to adopt a comprehensive solution for Sudan’s crisis and this position was reflected in the roadmap drawn by the US former special envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman recently.
Bashir also said the joint special envoy to Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, told him of his experience when he mediated the Liberian crisis, saying they managed to achieve a solution only when they brought all armed groups to a roundtable negotiations irrespective of their size.
In the same context, the PCP political secretary, Kamal Omer, stressed in a media forum on Wednesday existence of a confidence crisis of with the ruling NCP, saying they offered the latter a chance to resolve Sudan’s problems by accepting unconditional dialogue.
Meanwhile, the First Vice President, Bakri Hassan Salih, renewed to Mbeki Sudan’s commitment to implement agreements signed with South Sudan, urging him to accelerate peace process in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
In September 2012, both Sudan and South Sudan signed a series of cooperation agreements, which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking, border trade among others.
In March of last year, the two countries signed an implementation matrix for these cooperation agreements.
The state’s minister at the presidency, al-Rashid Haroun Adam, said in a press statement that Salih’s meeting with Mbeki on Wednesday discussed efforts exerted by the latter to achieve peace in Sudan.
He pointed the African mediator told the vice president he would make every effort to converge views of the government and the SPLM-N in the next round of talks besides leading a wide-scale moves among European nations to cancel Sudan’s foreign debts.
Adam further added the meeting discussed national reconciliation moves which have actually begun with the meetings held between Bashir and leaders of political parties to build trust and set up mechanisms to achieve political accommodation.