August 30, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said it had received “verbal approval” from the chairman of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM), Minni Arku Minnawi through the head of the government’s liaison committee with rebel groups, Siddig Wada’a, to engage in dialogue aimed at ending the conflict in Darfur.
- Minni Minnawi (AFP)
The SLA-MM said it would participate in the dialogue once convinced of the seriousness of the concerned parties, vowing to seek to unify the armed and political opposition and maintain unity of the country within the framework of its membership in the rebel alliance of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).
The SLA-MM spokesperson, Abdalla Mursal, said in a statement received by Sudan Tribune on Thursday that his movement actively participated in the efforts to convince the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, to come to the French capital and sign the Paris Declaration, pointing that the declaration managed to activate the Sudanese political arena.
Al-Mahdi and SRF chairman Malik Agar signed this month in Paris a joint statement calling for peace and democratic reforms, stressing that genuine process requires involving all political forces and ending the ongoing war in different parts of Sudan.
The declaration, which calls for unifying the political and military opposition forces, emphasises the need to create a suitable atmosphere for the dialogue.
The declaration also expresses readiness of the rebel alliance to implement a renewable cessation of hostilities in order to allow humanitarian access to the needy population in the war zones and to engage in the preparation of a constitutional dialogue.
The NCP political secretary, Mustafa Osman Ismail, told the pro-government Ashorooq TV that Wada’a informed them of the acceptance and readiness of several armed groups, including the SLM-MM, to engage in dialogue.
“We respond to Minnawi and say to him that the national dialogue seeks to engage all [political forces] without exclusion to address Sudan’s problems and it offers the necessary guarantees for the participation [of all armed groups],” he added
Mursal underscored that the SLM-MM will continue to make efforts to bridge the gap and bring together all active forces in the political arena, saying that Paris Declaration comes within the framework of realising this objective.
He said that his movement’s efforts led to the signing of the Paris Declaration, pointing to the memorandum of understanding they signed with the NUP in August 2013.
The SLM-MM considered the Paris Declaration a move to isolate the regime and abort its plans to falsify people’s will and tear up unity of Sudan and Sudanese people.
The rebel group further mentioned that it provided a roadmap for comprehensive dialogue along with its political vision, saying both documents were extensively published in various websites during the past months.
Ismail said the government was forced to intensify military operations during the past period following attacks of rebel groups against civilian population in several areas in Kordofan and Darfur, stressing the Sudanese army is ready for the next and final stage to end rebellion.
He asserted the government conviction that conflicts could only be resolved politically, saying Khartoum’s response to political solution is subject to the position of the rebel groups.
The NCP official said the cessation of hostilities which was included in the Paris Declaration either indicates a step towards ending the war or allow rebel groups to better prepare for it, pointing the government sees the cessation of hostilities as part of a comprehensive cessation of war to be followed by political and security solutions.
He said that Minnawi was reluctant to implement the security arrangements of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), revealing that they obtained substantiated information that western countries and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) pushed him to do so.
Minnawi signed the DPA on 5 May 2006 and was appointed a senior presidential assistant from 2006 to 2010. But he lost his position after the general elections of April 2010 and rebelled again. Since, his troops clashed with the government forces in Darfur.
TALKS ON THE TWO AREAS
According to Ismail, the government agreed to the proposal made by the lead mediator for the African Union, Thabo Mbeki, to resume talks with SPLM-N on the Two Areas in line with the proposed date, saying they wouldn’t be able to confirm the date unless the latter agrees to it.
The NCP spokesperson and state minister of information, Yassir Youssef, on Sunday called on the SPLM-N to join the negotiating table to end the conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.
Youssef disclosed that Mbeki officially informed them that talks will kick off in late August or early September, underscoring their readiness to engage in this round of talks in order to bring the three-year conflict in to an end.
But the SPLM-N secretary-general, Yassir Arman, in statements to Sudan Tribune on Sunday dismissed governments claims, saying the mediation invited them for a consultations meeting on the national dialogue.
“This is not accurate. We did not receive an invitation to any negotiations between the SPLM-N and the Sudanese government,” said Arman. He added the talks on a framework agreement should have been held a long time ago, “but the Sudanese government betted on the military option against the SPLM”.