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Al-Mahdi and Arman layout reasons of “Sudan Call” new stance toward peace roadmap

July 25, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) Yasir Arman have explained the reasons behind the Sudan Call’s new position toward the Roadmap Agreement.

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NUP Sadiq al-Mahdi (C) received at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris by SPLM-N SG and SRF external relations secretary Yasir Arman, (L) NUP deputy president Meriam al-Mahdi (R), deputy chairmen of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Ahmed Adam Bakheit (2d R) and SRF secretary for humanitarian affairs and a leading member of the Sudan Liberation Movement- Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) Trayo Ahmed Ali (2d L) on 6 August 2014 (ST)

Last March, the Sudanese opposition groups rejected the Roadmap Agreement which proposes a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access to civilians in the conflict affected areas, before to engage in the government proposed national dialogue process.

In a letter sent to the head of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on behalf of the holdout groups last June, al-Mahdi called to add a supplemental document to the Roadmap Agreement before to sign it.

AUHIP chief, Thabo Mbeki, in a first time, declined the proposal of supplemental document. However, in a second letter on 23 June, he reassured the opposition groups that all their concerns have already their answers in the roadmap.

In his second correspondence to al-Mahdi, Mbeki said the meeting proposed in the roadmap is actually the preparatory meeting the opposition calls for. He further said that their delegation to the meeting can include other political forces in a way to be inclusive. Also he said they can propose additional items to the agenda of the meeting to address all their concerns.

Following a five-day meeting in Paris last week, the Sudan Call forces decided to meet the mediation over the roadmap.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Monday, al-Mahdi said the Roadmap is not actually “an agreement but a mechanism that would lead to an agreement”, saying if the requirements of the preparatory national dialogue were met, the opposition would sign the Roadmap.

He stressed that the Sudan Call forces had previously refused to sign the peace plan because it was flawed in several respects, saying however that they were assured that the intended preparatory meeting is not a mere extension of the internal government-led dialogue but would be an inclusive meeting.

Al-Mahdi added that the opposition would have the right to choose its delegation for the preparatory meeting while the other side would be represented by a delegation consisting of the government and the dialogue mechanism known as 7+7 in order to ensure the commitment of all parties to the outcome of the meeting.

He pointed that the confidence-building measures including the ceasefire, delivering humanitarian relief to the needy population in war areas, allowing basic freedoms, releasing political prisoners and convicts would be applied prior to the intended internal dialogue, saying any additional topics would be included in dialogue agenda.

On the other hand, the NUP leader lashed those who criticized the decision of the Sudan Call forces to meet with the mediation over the Roadmap, saying they are either not aware of the internal, regional and international reality, misguided by others or acting on behalf of the regime’s security services.

He added that the popular uprising option will always remain in place and would only be discarded if the national dialogue managed to achieve its objective in a peaceful manner.

For his part, the secretary general of the SPLM-N Yasser Arman said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Monday his movement is ready to sign the Roadmap within the framework of the Sudan Call in order to launch a new negotiations process that would determine the confidence-building measures, the terms of the transition and how to engage in an equal dialogue.

He pointed that the regime is now aware that the dialogue process became a regional and international issue contrary to its original plan.

“Our refusal to sign the Roadmap has put the Sudan Call forces in confrontation with the mediation and the regional and international community but it was an essential move to prevent [them from forcing us to join] the internal dialogue” he said

“Now this phase has ended after we reached understandings with those forces [the mediation and the regional and international community]” he added

Arman added the regime’s attempt to use the mediation and the regional and international community against the opposition has made them part of the dialogue, saying the regime would soon realize that it has made a mistake by involving them in the dialogue.

The rebel leader pointed that the confidence-building demands of the Sudan Call forces would constitute the agenda for reaching an equal dialogue, describing the regime’s failure to force them to join the internal dialogue as “major achievement”.

He said the mediation has accepted that the opposition should determine its delegation on collective rather than individual bases, saying the preparatory meeting will be conducted differently but we work to maintain its essence and put our demands on the negotiating table.

Arman acknowledged that the opposition work suffers from many ills and needs to be reorganized according to clear priorities, accusing unnamed opposition parties of seeking to sharpen contradictions among opposition forces.

He stressed the SPLM-N would take clear stance against those parties and will seek to unify the opposition work according to strict and objective terms and foundations.

The rebel leader underscored that his movement would not hand over its weapons until a national professional army was formed, renewing the movement’s demand for establishing autonomous rule in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

South Kordofan and neighbouring Blue Nile state have been the scene of violent conflict between the SPLM-N and Sudanese army since 2011.

Last December, negotiations between Khartoum the SPLM-N stalled after the government delegation insisted that the objective of talks is to settle the conflict in the Two Areas, while the SPLM-N team has called for a holistic approach to resolve ongoing conflicts across Sudan.