South Sudanese mediators arrived in Khartoum yesterday to prepare the signing ceremony of the comprehensive peace agreement by the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance on October 3 in Juba. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North led by Abdulaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) has criticised statements of the Sudanese High Peace Council.
South Sudan Security Advisor to the President and head of the mediation team Tut Galuak arrived in Khartoum yesterday, and handed the invitation from the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir personally to the chairman of the Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan.
Heads of state and government officials of neighbouring countries, Arab countries, member countries of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and Friends of Sudan* have been invited as well.
Dhieu Mathok, member of the mediation team, told reporters at Khartoum International Airport yesterday that the mediators are arranging that a delegation of the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance visits Khartoum on Thursday, to prepare the return of all leaders of the armed movements from abroad.
After the final signing of the peace agreement, the text will be included in the Constitutional Document signed by the then Transitional Military Council and the Forces for Freedom and Change opposition coalition in August last year, marking the start of the transitional period.
SPLM-N El Hilu
Mathok further said that peace talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North led by Abdulaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) will start soon, following consultations with the Sudanese government about the negotiation methodology. Prime Minister Hamdok and rebel leader El Hilu signed an accord on the basic principles for peace negotiations two weeks ago.
In a press statement yesterday, SPLM-N El Hilu criticised the statement of the High Peace Council** about its meeting on Monday. Rebel spokesperson Ammar Daldoum stated that the High Peace Council ignored the contentious issues mentioned in the two two agreements signed by Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and El Hilu in Addis Ababa on September 3 and 4.
According to Daldoum, the statement of the High Peace Council did not mention that the majority of Sudanese political parties and civil society organisations, a large proportion of the Sudanese people - in particular those living in the war-torn states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile - support the SPLM-N El Hilu positions. Daldoum also claims support for SPLM-N El Hilu from the African Union, the United States, Britain, France, and the Sudan Troika (USA, UK, and Norway).
According to SPLM-N El Hilu, a broad national dialogue by way of workshops, according to the methodology mentioned in the Addis Ababa agreement, should lead to national consensus about a viable secular state. This new Sudan will impose no laws based on religion. The movement affirmed it adheres to what has been agreed upon by Hamdok and El Hilu in Addis Ababa.
In July, El Hilu warned the Sudanese government that its policies will continue to divide the Sudanese people.
SPLM-N El Hilu separately joined the peace negotiations in September last year. The talks continued in January, but no progress was reported. In a statement dated May 28, SPLM-N El Hilu denied rumours that they withdrew from the peace negotiations. “These are baseless allegations,” said Daldoum, who is also the movement’s chief negotiator. “We deposited our position paper on State and Religion to the South Sudanese mediation team on 26 February 2020, and received no response from the government up to this moment,” he stated.
* *The Friends of Sudan group includes **Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the African Union, the European Union, the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Representatives of the United Nations, the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank usually attend the meetings of the Friends of Sudan.*
** The High Peace Council, chaired by Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, comprises all members of the Sovereign Council, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Federal Government, as well as three experts.
As stipulated in Chapter XV of the Constitutional Declaration**, the High Peace Council deals with issues of comprehensive peace and pursue the dialogue on core issues with all parties to complete the peace process. It also takes confidence-building initiatives and develops public policies related to addressing the roots of the problem in order to achieve a just peace.
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