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DUP discusses ceasefire with Sudanese rebels: spokesperson

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October 11, 2015 (KHARTOUM) - The acting spokesperson for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) led by Mohamed Osman al-Merghani said they discussed with the rebel umbrella Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF) ways to reach a permanent ceasefire.

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DUP leader Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani (C) poses with SRF deputy chairman al-Tom Hajo and SRF secretary of external affairs Yasir Arman on 22 August 2014 (Photo courtesy of the SRF)

In his address before the opening session of the dialogue conference Saturday, president Omer al-Bashir expressed readiness to develop the two-month cessation of hostilities he recently declared in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur into a permanent ceasefire given that rebel groups show desire for achieving peace.

Bashir also announced the formation of a new committee to reach the holdout political and armed groups that refuse to join the process pointing to the need for political freedoms, a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access to civilians in the rebel held areas.

DUP acting spokesperson, Mohamed Sayed Ahmed Sir al-Khatim, told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that he spoke to the SRF deputy chairman Minni Minnawi and the head of media sector al-Tom Hago following Bashir’s address, saying they promised to convey his initiative to the rest of the SRF leaders.

He pointed to the need for determining a time-frame for implementing the measures announced by president Bashir to create a conducive climate for holding the national dialogue.

The DUP official called for holding the pre-dialogue meeting in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the African Union (AU) and in the presence of all relevant parties in order to agree on the permanent ceasefire and to determine the necessary guarantees for the participation of the rebel leaders in the dialogue conference.

The armed and political opposition groups have boycotted the dialogue conference which kicked off Saturday saying the government should implement an AU road map to facilitate the process and participate in pre-dialogue meeting to be organised by the regional body at its headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Sir al-Khatim, who is also in charge of the coordination dossier with the SRF, said the contacts come within the framework of the efforts they made last September to approve a permanent ceasefire and open corridors for humanitarian access in the war zone, pointing that SRF rebels at the time agreed to the DUP initiative.

He further pointed to Bashir’s willingness to reach a permanent ceasefire besides his directives to release the political detainees.

“We want to use those pledges and that is why we contacted the SRF leaders to explore their position towards it and we got their initial approval [for Bashir’s pledges] ,” he added.

Sir al-Khatim added the contacts would be soon crowned by a meeting with the SRF leaders abroad in order to “put the dots above the letters [clarify the positions] and reach a permanent ceasefire”.

Last September, SRF factions expressed their readiness to sign a cessation of hostilities for six months in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states and Darfur region provided that Khartoum be committed to the inclusive dialogue process and accept the pre-dialogue process.

The Sudanese army has been fighting Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states since 2011 and the armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

The Sudanese government and the rebels failed to reach a cessation of hostilities agreement after a series of talks brokered by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) in December 2014.

(ST)

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