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Sudan’s peace talks are stalled by govt ambiguity over secular state: al-Hilu

January 3, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The leader of the SPLM-N al-Hilu renewed his demand to separate religion and the state and attributed the stalemate in peace talks to the government’s ambiguity on the matter.

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SPLM-N’s Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu (ST)

Abdel Aziz al-Hilu who was recently in Abu Dhabi made his statement to the Emirati news site, Al-Ain.

Al-Hilu said that they had agreed since the beginning of talks with the government to prioritize the political file, as it represents the core of the conflict.

He pointed out that the government rejected the draft declaration of principles filed by his movement because it includes the issue of the secular state and in the event of disagreement the right to self-determination for the two states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

"The question of secularism is fundamental for us. If we are keen to preserve Sudan’s unity - a just unity that achieves stability, development, and the transition from a state of poverty to a welfare state - then religion must be separated from the state," he said.

He added that the transitional government did not make any effort.

"Even the Constitutional Document signed by the Transitional Military Council and the Forces for Freedom and Change last August dealt with issues with a bit of ambiguity and kept silent about secularism".

"If the transitional government and the Center refuse to accept the principle of secularism, we prefer to resort to the right to self-determination," he further said.

The Sudanese government says the issue of the religion and its relationship with the state should be determined in the constitutional conference which will be held after the signing of peace agreements with the armed groups.

Different political leaders expressed their support for the call for the separation between the state after the misuse of religion by the former Islamist regime.

However, the difference remains on where to discuss the matter.

The South Sudanese leader Salva Kiir proposed to mediate the peace talks saying he was able to bring the parties to reach an agreement.