August 7, 2014 (PARIS) – Discussions between the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) and the rebel alliance of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) on Thursday were focused on peace and democratic change, with both parties expected to sign a joint political declaration on Friday.
- The SRF leadership pictured with NUP leader Sadiq al-Mahdi at a meeting held in Paris on 7 August 2014. From left: Trayo Ahmed Ali, Gibril Ibrahim, Sadiq al-Mahdi, Malik Agar, Abdel Wahid al-Nur, Meriam Sadiq al-Mahdi, al-Tom Hajo and Yasir Arman (ST)
NUP leader Sadiq al-Mahdi arrived in Paris on Wednesday for a two-day meeting with the rebel leaders after Sudan’s security service prevented one of his deputies, Mohamed Abdallah al-Douma, from travelling to the French capital to participate in the first gathering between the two sides.
The SRF delegation, which is chaired by leader Malik Agar includes deputies Abdel Wahid al-Nur, Gibril Ibrahim and al-Tom Hajo, as well as SRF secretary for external relations Yasir Arman and humanitarian secretary Trayo Ahmed Ali.
The leader of Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) did not participate in the meeting, with officials in his group saying he is currently on the ground with his troops.
At the end of the first day Mahdi and Agar made brief statements to the media saying they had discussed ways to achieve democratic change and reach peace in Sudan, adding they will issue a further joint statement on Friday calling on other political and social forces to join them.
Both leaders also expressed hope that the meeting responds to the aspirations of the Sudanese people who are now expecting that “we come out with a common vision to gather all the political forces that desire to achieve a just and comprehensive peace and complete democratic change”.
“We are happy with what has been agreed and we hope that the complete details will be released in a [joint] statement tomorrow (Friday),” Mahdi said, underscoring that the discussions were “frank and open”.
Meanwhile, Agar said that peace is a necessary condition without which no democratic change can be implemented in Sudan.
“We believe that there is no serious dialogue or a serious solution in Sudan without working to end conflicts in Sudan,” Agar said.
NUP deputy president Meriam al-Mahdi, who participated in a hearing at the European parliament in Strasbourg last month with the SRF, is also taking part in ongoing meetings in Paris.
In Khartoum, presidential assistant Ghandour Ibrahim said on Thursday that a national dialogue mechanism will hold another meeting on Saturday to continue discussions on a framework agreement after parties failed to reach an accord over how to implement the outcome of the political process.
The National Congress Party (NCP) refuses to postpone the elections scheduled for April 2015 or to form a national unity government to implement any agreement that is reached during the political process.
Meanwhile, opposition parties participating in the political process warned last Monday that they will no longer take part in dialogue if the NCP continues to reject their demands. However, Popular Congress Party leader Hassan al-Turabi has refused to take this line, reiterating his party’s commitment to the process.
The NUP – Sudan’s largest opposition party – suspended its participation in the national dialogue after al-Mahdi’s arrest in May. The party is demanding that any dialogue include rebel groups, saying they should not be dissociated from the implementation of any national political agreement.
It is also calling for the inclusion of the “six historical parties” in an African Union-led peace process, with the rebel groups aiming to end war in the Darfur region, as well as Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.