Sudan’s alliance of opposition parties have agreed to end their differences and unite to bring down the ruling regime. Some oppositionists have participated in a closed-door meeting with the ruling party to discuss a resolution to the governance crisis. Meanwhile, Washington has renewed its conditions for lifting the sanctions it imposed on Khartoum and removing it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The spokesman for the coalition of opposition forces, Kamal Omar, said in a statement that the Popular Congress Party (PCP), which is led by Hassan al-Turabi, has proposed that the parties sign a code of honor to “preserve the alliance and put an end to their reciprocal media attacks.” Such attacks have become a prevalent feature of the alliance over the past weeks. The proposal states that criticisms should be confined within the alliance. Omar said that the various opposition forces have widely accepted the move.
Omar strongly denied charges by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) that the opposition alliance is involved in subversive plans to bring down the regime. He stressed that the coalition is working to change the system of government in a peaceful manner. He added that “any talk about parties conspiring with foreign countries or armed movements to change the regime is not true...We want to change the regime, but through democratic and peaceful means, in the street or by popular revolt.”
In the past few weeks, disagreements have increased within the growing opposition between the Umma Party led by Sadiq al-Mahdi and other coalition forces. Mahdi has criticized his allies and insisted on restructuring the coalition, which he accused of being weak and ineffective. Mahdi has called for reforming the regime while other parties wish to bring it down. The other opposition parties have accused Mahdi of unclear stances, saying that he is negotiating with the regime while at the same time remaining part of the opposition. The coalition of opposition forces has requested that Mahdi make a public, written apology for his frequent criticisms of the alliance and its leaders.
A closed symposium was held in Khartoum and included prominent leaders from the ruling political forces, the opposition and civil society. Attendees discussed how to conduct a national dialogue, to be sponsored by the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, on the governance crisis in Sudan and the most effective way to solve the crisis. NCP members, some opposition leaders and government-allied parties all participated in the symposium.
The discussion was held in a quiet atmosphere and focused on the requirements for holding a national dialogue. According to the symposium’s organizers, the parties agreed to continue consulting with all forces within and outside the country. Participating in the symposium were Ibrahim Ghandour and Badria Suleiman from the NCP; Taj al-Sir Mohammed Saleh from the Democratic Unionist Party; and Abdullah Hassan Ahmed, al-Shafi’ Khodr, Farouk Abou Issa, Ibrahim al-Amin, Mariam al-Mahdi and Ahmad al-Alam from the opposition.
Yesterday [March 3], it was learned that Khartoum and Juba had agreed to the proposal, made by the head of the African mediation team Thabo Mbeki, to resume political and security talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The talks will be headed by Sudan’s Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Mohammed Hussein and South Sudan’s Defense Minister John Kong Nyuon.
Sources said that restarting the African mediation was aimed at achieving tangible progress on outstanding issues, in advance of a meeting of the African Union's Peace and Security Council to discuss the remaining differences between Sudan and South Sudan, how to establish a buffer zone between them, how to demarcate the border and how to resolve the dispute over the Abyei region.
The Peace and Security Council may include participation by presidents Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir Mayardit. The reports also said that the governor of South Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun, may be chosen during the next two weeks to head the delegation to negotiate with the rebels’ People’s Movement-North regarding the conflict between South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.
For the indirect negotiation rounds, the government delegation was headed by former Information Minister Kamal Obeid. The PCP’s general secretary announced that he would lead a delegation to negotiate with the Sudanese government to solve the year-old political crisis between the Blue Nile and South Kordofan and to suggested mediators for the talks slated for March 15.
Elsewhere, the new American chargé d’affaires in Khartoum, Joseph Stafford, expressed his country’s readiness to discuss terrorism and sanctions issues with the Sudanese government. He called on Sudan to take positive steps toward the issues related to the lifting of sanctions, to engage in political talks with the rebels’ People’s Movement-North, to avoid military solutions and to settle the conflict in Darfur.
During his visit to Sufi elders in Alkbai in northern Khartoum, Stafford asked Sudan to “stop supporting global terrorism for six consecutive months and to guarantee that it would not support any terrorist act in the future,” as well as take concrete steps to resolve the crisis between Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, in addition to other commitments. He added that the Sudanese government is aware of what it needs to do to be taken off the terrorist list. He pointed out that those issues will not prevent the Obama administration from talking to Sudan. He stressed the US’s willingness to help achieve comprehensive peace in the areas of conflict.
Clashes erupted between government forces and rebels in central Sudan. Previous violence had been confined to the border area. Reuters reported that the rebel Justice and Equality Movement in Darfur attacked the army in North Kordofan.
The movement, along with two other rebel groups, formed an alliance with the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Sudan-North to try to overthrow Bashir. Until now, the fighting with the army had been limited to Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. But on Saturday, the Justice and Equality Movement seized control of the Waad Bahr in North Kordofan from government troops. The movement’s spokesman, Jibril Adam, said that they had defeated the army and seized many weapons.
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