August 8, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA/KHARTOUM) - Four groups of the opposition umbrella Sudan Call on Monday in Addis Ababa have signed the Roadmap Agreement for peace and dialogue brokered by the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP).
Last March, four Sudan Call groups including the National Umma Party (NUP), Sudan People’s Liberation Movement /North (SPLM-N), Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) led by Minni Minnawi rejected the peace plan, saying it excludes other opposition groups, and omits important confidence building measures such as political freedoms and release of political detainees and prisoners.
However after five months, they agreed to ink it after receiving reassurance from the head of the AUHIP Thabo Mbeki.
Hours ahead of signing the roadmap agreement, the Sudan call group held a separate meeting at a different venue where the opposition factions organized issues of concern they wanted to raise to Mbeki.
The Sudan call meeting was then followed by a meeting with AUHIP and Mbeki where the groups reach agreement on how the Sudan call is going to sign the roadmap agreement and on how their concern should be addressed.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune, Yasir Arman, SPLM-N secretary general said he is optimistic that the parties will step towards achieving an inclusive process that will bring an end to the war.
"We are ready to sign the peace deal that addresses the humanitarian situation, which brings democracy and transformation, equal citizenship and that one that moves Sudan from dictatorship to democracy" Arman said.
WHAT LIES NEXT
Now that the Roadmap Agreement is signed, Negotiations are expected to resume tomorrow in two tracks: SPLM-N with the government and other track for Darfur.
Head of the NUP, al-Sadig al-Mahdi, told Sudan Tribune that following the signing of the roadmap, AUHIP will convene a meeting which he said the Sudan call group expects to discuss confidence building measures.
He said it will also lead to setting agendas for future discussions on democratization.
“We believe that after the signature we will arrange this meeting and this meeting will lead to further discussions between the two sides to come to terms about how to continue this Sudanese process inside Sudan after the confidence building process is fulfilled” al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, also the Former Sudanese Prime Minister told Sudan Tribune.
He said the national initiative inside has come to an end and it has its own recommendations.
"What we are talking about is an independent process of course we will discuss what was achieved”.
After signing the agreement, SPLM-N leader, Malik Agar, told reporters that his group was signing the agreement while still having reservations.
Although Malik didn’t detail the reservations he however hinted it is related to the humanitarian situation and on issues to do with political detainees.
He said his movement is committed to peace and the decision to sign the agreement was to give peace a chance further calling on the government side to demonstrate commitment.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) Minni Arko Minnawi has however expressed reservations further questioning the neutrality of Mbeki, but declined to give further details.
SUDAN CALL STATEMENT
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune ahead of the signing of Roadmap, Sudan Call said it told Mbeki that it was ready to sign the peace document on the basis of the understandings it brought to him in its letter on 22 July 2016.
It reiterated its call for holding a preparatory meeting to achieve a credible and inclusive national constitutional dialogue process, saying the meeting must “guarantee the Sudan Call the right to agree to its own delegation”.
The statement added that the agenda for the preparatory meeting “must determine the agenda, rules, procedures, regulations, mechanisms and guarantees that will shape an inclusive and credible national constitutional dialogue process”.
It added that the meeting must reach an agreement on the decisions and actions for a conducive environment needed for a credible dialogue including fundamental freedoms and release of political prisoners and detainees “as well as a matrix for their implementation”.
ARRIVAL OF GOVERNMENT DELEGATION
Meanwhile, the Sudanese government delegation for the peace talks on Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile has arrived in Addis Ababa on Monday.
Presidential aide and head of the delegation Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid told the semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) that they are ready to engage in talks with the armed groups on the cessation of hostilities and the humanitarian access according to the Roadmap.
He expressed hope that the armed groups exhibit a strong political will to achieve an agreement ending the conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas.
For his part, member of the government delegation Bishara Guma’a Aror said the peace talks would start on Tuesday by discussing the preliminary arrangements stipulated on item (2-1) of the Roadmap pertaining to cessation of hostilities and permanent ceasefire besides the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
He pointed that the parties to the talks would then engage on discussions on the political and security arrangement.