March 19, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The United Kingdom’s ambassador to Khartoum, Peter Tibber said that the success of the comprehensive national dialogue initiative launched by the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir earlier this year is contingent upon creating the appropriate environment to that end.
- United Kingdom ambassador to Khartoum Peter Tibber (British Embassy Sudan - Flickr)
Tibber, who spoke at a press conference on Wednesday, called upon Khartoum to apply the necessary political measures to push the initiative forward. He expressed concern over authorities’ move to prevent public seminars organised by the opposition parties, stressing that freedom of expression is a basic right for all individuals and political forces.
Late last January the Sudanese leader announced in a televised address to the nation a four-point plan for reform "to stop the war and bring peace, free political society, fight against poverty and revitalise national identity".
He further called for political forces and even rebel groups to lay down arms to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items to achieve these objectives.
Bashir afterwards met with several opposition leaders but it is not yet clear how the dialogue call will be implemented amid deep skepticism over the willingness of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to implement deep reforms.
So far NCP officials including Bashir have brushed aside opposition calls for delaying the 2015 elections and forming a transitional government that would work on drafting a new constitution to prepare the country for the polls.
Meanwhile the UK envoy to South Sudan’s peace talks Tim Morris said his country believes that Khartoum can play a central role in ending the bloody conflict in South Sudan and building trust between the warring parties besides convincing them to bring the sufferings of their citizens to an end, saying Sudan has vested interests in this regard.
Morris mentioned that he has been present in Addis Ababa where negotiations between the southern foes are taking place since January to follow and support the talks.
Morris disclosed that he held series of meetings with senior Sudanese officials to discuss the ongoing conflict in South Sudan and find ways of ending it.
He praised Khartoum’s decision to treat the southern refugees as Sudanese citizens, noting that he received information from specialised agencies that Sudan needs foreign assistance to support those refugees.
Violence erupted in the South Sudanese capital of Juba in mid-December last year killing at least 10,000 and displacing nearly a million. President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of instigating the violence, which the latter vehemently dismissed.