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Sudan’s 7+7 committee reaches partial agreement on national dialogue

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July 23, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s national dialogue committee known as 7+7, comprised of government parties and opposition ones, on Wednesday said it has partially agreed on a roadmap for a process to realise peace and democratic reforms.

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Sudan’s presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, (Photo: AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

Last Sunday, the committee discussed two separate papers on the dialogue’s principles, objectives, issues, participants, timetable, structures, and venue. It also agreed to prepare a draft framework agreement to be discussed in the committee’s meeting with the Sudanese president, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, on Thursday.

Presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, said in statements on Wednesday that the committee agreed to more than %90 of the roadmap, saying the framework agreement would be completed no later than Eid al-Fitr [feast of breaking the fast of Ramadan] holiday.

He expressed optimism that political forces would confidently move towards the national dialogue.

The deputy chairman of the Reform Now Party (RNP), Hassan Rizq, told Sudan Tribune that the meeting discussed integration of the government and opposition positions in a single paper besides identifying points of differences and ways to resolve them.

Rizq refused to go into details of their disagreement, pointing that opposition parties presented their views in all controversial issues. But he underscored existence of broad consensus in all issues at stake, saying that some issues need more discussion.

The RNP official further pointed that the unified paper will be discussed in a meeting with president Bashir on Thursday.

However, reliable opposition sources told Sudan Tribune that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) expressed reservation on issues of the transitional government and review of elections law while opposition forces insists on discussing these issues before the 2015 elections.

The opposition parties call for forming a national unity government during a transitional period and to postpone elections general elections scheduled for April 2015.

They also demand to allow political freedoms in order to create a conducive environment for the national dialogue and accommodate political forces which refused to participate in the process.

Observers say the momentum for the national dialogue has weakened substantially as a result of the government’s recent crackdown on opposition figures, activists and newspapers. They also point that the insistence of government on holding the April 2015 elections on time contrary to opposition demands.

The National Umma Party (NUP) suspended its participation in national dialogue following detention of its leader, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi in May after he criticised government militia, accusing them of committing war crimes in Darfur. After his release in June, Mahdi said there is a need to review the current process and to include rebels in the political process.

The RNP , which was established by a splinter group from the NCP, also boycotted the national dialogue for a while before resuming its participation, vowing to work towards achieving a political consensus to end war and restore democracy in Sudan.

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 revitalizing national identity.

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.

(ST)

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