April 7, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - African Union mediator for peace and democratic reforms in Sudan, Thabo Mbeki Friday discussed ways to implement the Roadmap Agreement with the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and the opposition Sudan Call groups inside the country.
Mbeki met Thursday with the government negotiators for the two track process brokered by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP). Following the meeting, Presidential Assistant Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid announced the government willingness to discuss the implementation of the roadmap signed with the holdout armed and political groups last year.
The Sudanese government to some extent seems accepting an international proposal calling to consider the outcome of the national dialogue conference as the first step representing the position of the government and its allied groups which can serve as a basis for the second round of dialogue with the opposition groups.
In their meeting held at the Presidential Guest House, President al-Bashir and Mbeki discussed the implementation of the Roadmap Agreement which provides to discuss a humanitarian cessation of hostilities in the conflict-affected areas in the Two Areas and Darfur and to negotiate confidence-building measures particularly the political freedoms with the opposition groups before to join the national dialogue process inside the country.
After the meeting, Mbeki told reporters they discussed the outcome of the national dialogue process held last October, adding that the Sudanese president also briefed him about the constitutional reforms and the appointment of a prime minister.
I informed President al-Bashir that we want to encourage all the parties that didn’t participate in the national dialogue conference to take part in the construction of the next state, adding my meeting with the Imam Sadiq al-Mahdi also discussed this matter, Mbeki said.
"If we succeed we will bring all the Sudanese components to participate in the dialogue process," he further said.
The Sudanese government signed the AUHIP proposed roadmap last March but the armed groups and the National Umma Party of Sadiq al-Mahdi refused to ink demanding more guarantees before to accept it in August 2016.
Also, the talks for a humanitarian cessation of hostilities agreement failed, as the government and the SPLM-N diverged on the need to open a safe humanitarian corridor through Ethiopia, while the Darfur groups insisted on the need to open for discussions the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.
Presidential aide Hamid who attended the meeting said Bashir and Mbeki agreed that the dialogue process is open for all the parties in order to establish a strong state and agree on a permanent constitution. He added that the armed group have agreed in principle to join the dialogue process.
"It is time to focus on the future, not the past. The document of the dialogue outcome has no details but general principles. Perhaps a disagreement may occur when it comes to discuss the future constitution or laws and its implementation and general policies of the state," he said
Following the end of the dialogue conference last October, the Sudanese government declared that there would be no talks with the holdout opposition groups but they can only sign the National Document which includes the recommendations of the national dialogue process and participate in the constitutional assembly and the transitional government.
Speaking to the press, after a meeting held earlier with Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the National Umma Party, Mbeki said they agreed on the need to implement the roadmap because its implementation leads to address all the outstanding matters between the opposition and the government.
"I’m really happy to say we have agreed that really the way forwards means to go back to the implementation of the Roadmap Agreement," said the chief mediator.
As result of this agreement, the AUHIP will convene a meeting for the Sudan Call groups to prepare themselves for the talks with the government and then they will meet with the mediation before eventually meet with the government, he added.
Al-Mahdi for his part has indicated that Mbeki told them the mediation looks forward that the Sudan Call at the end of its meeting in Addis Ababa meets with the national dialogue outcome implementation mechanism.
"Mbeki said he is happy that all the Sudanese parties are now optimistic to reach a comprehensive agreement on the issues of peace, governance, and the constitution," he added.