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AU mediator meets with Sudanese political parties to push forward national dialogue

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May 17, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The head of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki, held intensive meetings with government officials, opposition leaders, and civil society organizations in Khartoum on Saturday in order to push forward the national dialogue.

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Former South African President Thabo Mbeki speaks during a meeting between Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein and his South Sudan counterpart John Kong Nyuon in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, March 8, 2013. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

He met with the ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) deputy chairman, Ibrahim Ghandour, the leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP), Hassan Al-Turabi, the chairman of the Reform Now Party (RNP), Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Attabani, besides several civil society organizations and activists including the former Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) leading figure, Mansour Khalid.

The chairman of the opposition alliance National Consensus Forces (NCF), Farouq Abu Issa, said Mbeki expressed understanding and support for the NCF’s stance toward the national dialogue, pointing that dialogue should lead to dismantling the one-party regime and establishing a democratic one.

He told reporters following his meeting with Mbeki that the latter expressed conviction that the war in Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile would only be resolved within a comprehensive solution for Sudan’s problem, saying the government strongly rejects that comprehensive solution.

Abu Issa, underscored the dialogue would fail if it excluded the NCF and the rebel alliance of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).

“Without the NCF and the SRF the dialogue will be tasteless and wouldn’t lead to real outcome that solves Sudan’s problems”, he said

Abu Issa quoted Mbeki as saying the NCF and the SRF are important elements in the peaceful process, pointing the AU is willing to facilitate the national dialogue despite its conviction that the solution must be confined to the Sudanese parties.

The NCF’s chairman asserted the NCP resorted to dialogue due to its weakness and internal divisions following defection of seven groups from its ranks, saying that five more groups are on their way to leave the party due to its failed policies.

He renewed the NCF’s readiness to engage in the dialogue according to its declared conditions including creating atmosphere conducive for dialogue, ending the civil war, and issuing of a general amnesty.

“We are ready to engage in the political process while simultaneously continue to carry out our plan to overthrow the regime through a popular uprising”, he added

The NCP political secretary, Mustafa Osman Ismail, said the meeting with Mbeki underscored his party’s commitment to dialogue and readiness for the next round of talks with the SPLM-N, pointing the controversy about the dialogue mechanism has been resolved and the president will invite the political parties which agreed to take part in the dialogue to meet soon.

Meanwhile, the PCP’s political secretary, Kamal Omer Abdel-Salam, said the current environment is not fully conducive for dialogue but it is reasonable, noting they asked Mbeki to help convince those who refused to join the dialogue.

Sources which attended one of Mbeki’s meetings told Sudan Tribune that the majority of the participants expressed concern that dialogue procedures are slow and several influential parties didn’t join the process.

According to the same sources, several participants demanded offering real guarantees for the rebel groups in order to engage in the national dialogue.

Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalising national identity.

He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last month with the participation of 83 political parties. The opposition National Umma Party (NUP) and the PCP are the only major opposition parties to accept Bashir’s call for national dialogue so far.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.

The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.

The SRF said it doesn’t reject the principle of dialogue for a comprehensive and peaceful solution, but they want a dialogue based on a clear roadmap to “move from war to peace and from totalitarianism to democracy”.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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