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Sudan’s Bashir rejects AUPSC call for dialogue preparatory meeting

August 30, 2015 (KHARTOUM) -Sudan’s president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has officially rejected the call of the African Union (AU) to hold a pre-dialogue meeting in Addis Ababa, saying he wants the dialogue to be an exclusive Sudanese process.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (TIKSA NEGERI/REUTERS)

Last week, the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) reiterated its call for an urgent pre-national dialogue meeting of all Sudan’s relevant parties, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, to discuss and agree on procedural matters relating to the dialogue.

Bashir, who addressed the army officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers at the Wadi Siedna military compound on Sunday, said his government refuses to hold the dialogue abroad, stressing that the AU, United Nations and the United States can’t force the Sudanese government to hold the national dialogue abroad.

He said that doors are open for all parties to discuss ways for resolving Sudan’s problems without foreign tutelage, warning rebels groups against insistence on resorting to arms to resolve outstanding issues.

Bashir said the coming year would be the year for achieving a decisive peace, pointing they offer the full opportunity for all parties to engage in the dialogue.

“We are authorized to wage war against those who refuse to engage in the dialogue,” he added.

In the same context, Sudan’s foreign minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, told the Swedish ambassador to Khartoum, Mette Sunnergren, that his government would not accept to hold any dialogue conference abroad.

In a meeting held on Sunday, Ghandour informed the Swedish diplomat that his government wants the dialogue to be "an exclusive Sudanese process", pointing that Sudan coordinates with the AUPSC and the AU High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) only as partners who offer opinion and efforts to ensure the success of the process.

In September 2014, the peace and security body endorsed a roadmap aiming to facilitate the national dialogue. It provides to hold a national dialogue preparatory meeting in Addis to agree on issues related to the process.

But before they have to negotiate a cessation of hostilities immediately followed by security arrangements.

Bashir launched the national dialogue initiative more than a year and a half ago in which he urged opposition parties and rebels alike to join the dialogue table to discuss all the pressing issues.

But the initiative faced serious setbacks in wake of the government’s refusal to create suitable atmosphere in the country leading several major participants to pull out.

OPPOSITION CONDEMNS GOVERNMENT STANCE

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RNM leader Ghazi Salah Eddin Attabani speaks in a press conference held in Khartoum on 30 August 2015 (Photo ST)

Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition Reform Now Movement (RNM), Ghazi al-Attabani, described the government refusal to participate in the pre-dialogue meeting as “irrational and unsustainable”.

Attabani, who spoke in a press conference held by the Alliance of National Forces (ANF) including the political forces which withdrew from the government-led dialogue on Sunday, said the government would be forced to change its position sooner or later, wondering why it drags its feet on accepting the pre-dialogue meeting while it engages in external negotiations on its entire affairs.

He called on the Sudanese government to stop political manoeuvring on the issue of holding the dialogue inside Sudan, accusing it of trying to portray the opposition forces as seeking to hold the dialogue abroad.

“On the contrary, all political forces are committed to hold an exclusive Sudanese dialogue inside the Sudan”, he added.

RNM leader pointed that some opposition forces agreed to initiate the dialogue by holding a preparatory meeting abroad, describing the AUPSC call for the dialogue as “historic and unprecedented”.

He said the government will be the losing party if it insists on rejecting the AUPSC call for holding the pre-dialogue meeting, warning against underestimating the African support for Sudan.

Attabani further pointed if Africa withdrew its support for Sudan, the government would be exposed to international pressures and would be forced to engage in the dialogue at a higher cost than any genuine dialogue among the sons of Sudan.

He pointed that the recent AUPSC communiqué shows that the regional body was visibly irritated by the procrastination of the Sudanese government in taking the right steps to conduct a genuine and comprehensive dialogue.

“[The AUPSC] is standing one step away from declaring that the ongoing dialogue is worthless because it doesn’t meet the minimum standards of political dialogue that have been implemented in similar experiences,” he said.

Attabani demanded the government to immediately respond to calls made by the “Sudan Call” forces for stopping the war, urging it to engage in serious talks to achieve a cessation of hostilities that leads to a comprehensive ceasefire.

“It would be futile to talk about political reform or national dialogue or to address Sudan’s economic or regional and international relations crises while the war is ongoing,” he added.

ANF spokesperson, Taha Abdallah Yassin, for his part, said that failure of the government to put the dialogue in the right track would force them to resort the alternative dialogue project which they had agreed to launch with the rebel umbrella Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF).

He added the alternative dialogue will be based on the consensus of the entire Sudanese people, saying its outcome would form the basis of the national constitution.

NFC CALLS FOR UPRISING

In a related development, the opposition alliance National Consensus Forces (NCF) issued a statement saying that past and current developments prove they prove right their long-standing position that the government is not serious in its call for a negotiated solution for the country’s issues.

"As the regime has rejected all the requirements and objective conditions for dialogue, the choice of the National Consensus Forces (...) is to overthrow the regime through a popular uprising, political strike and civil disobedience, and total rejection of any settlement aiming to maintain this system," the alliance of the left forces said.

The statement underscored that in line with Berlin Declaration, the opposition forces have to stop seeking a negotiated solution and to work altogether in a popular uprising to topple down the regime of President Omer al-Bashir.

RNM DENIES CONTACTS

RNM deputy chairman Hassan Rizq denied they were being contacted by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to resume participation in the ongoing dialogue, accusing NCP leaders of turning a deaf ear to other political forces.

It is worth mentioning that the RNM pulled out of the dialogue last year blaming the NCP for its refusal to implement a number of confidence building measures aimed at creating a conducive environment before the start of the process.

Rizq called on the Sudanese government to listen to the voice of reason and avoid any confrontation with the AUPSC in order not to prevent transfer of the dossier to the UN Security Council.

“It is the duty of the wise men (within the government) to rein in those who seek to drag Sudan to this confrontation (with the AUPSC) ,” he added.

(ST)