Sudanese Opposition Approves Arab Peace Plan
Sudan's southern rebels and main northern opposition groups have unanimously approved a new version of Egyptian-Libyan peace plan that calls for a transitional government, a spokesman said Friday.
The National Democratic Alliance, which includes the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army and northern opposition groups, "unanimously approved" the plan Thursday following three days of meetings in Cairo, NDA spokesman Hatem Al Sir Ali told AFP.
Diplomats from Egypt and Libya submitted the plan in a memorandum on Tuesday to the Sudanese government, the NDA and the separate northern opposition Umma party.
"The memorandum focuses on the principles and foundations proposed by the two countries, including setting up a national transition government, with the participation of all Sudanese parties," Ali said.
Ali said the plan is a "new version" of the one first proposed by Libya and Egypt two years ago, adding it contains principles for resolving differences that were not included in the original plan.
According to independent Sudanese newspapers, those principles include unity, citizenship as a basis for rights and duties, recognition of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, introduction of a plural democracy, guaranteeing basic freedoms and human rights, establishment of a decentralized system of rule and pursuance of a foreign policy that guarantees national interests and respects good neighbor relations.
The memorandum also calls for the formation of a transitional government of all political parties to undertake implementation of the agreement, hold a national conference for revision of the constitution, and organize general elections.
It provides for an undertaking by all parties for an immediate cessation of fighting.
Ali said Khartoum had rejected the plan. However, a Sudanese government official was quoted by AFP as saying in remarks published Friday in Khartoum that the memorandum was "under study" by the Sudanese authorities.
the Egyptian ambassador to Khartoum has presented a memorandum to the Sudanese government, which promised to reply in writing in a few days. The ambassador also delivered a message to the leader of the Sudanese Ummah Party, Al Sadeq Al Mahdi.
"This is the last chance to reach a concrete proposal for coordinating the two initiatives," because of new developments in the civil war and time lost since an Arab proposal was floated two years ago, NDA spokesman Hatem Al Sir Ali told AFP earlier this week.
The Egyptian assistant foreign minister and director of the Sudan department, Mohammed Rafiq Khalil, has said, “These proposals are considered the first practical step toward implementing the joint committee initiative, by holding a preliminary meeting followed by an inclusive meeting,” added Rafiq, indicating that Egypt and Libya would not favor one Sudanese side at the expense of the other.
According to the Emirati Al Bayan Arabic daily on Thursday, the memo did not address the issue of separating religion from the state, or the issue of autonomy. The latter are two urgent demands by the opposition assembly, particularly of the popular movement headed by John Garang.
Garang, whose Sudan People's Liberation Army has fought Sudan's Arab Muslim north since 1983, advocates a confederate state with two separate constitutions, so that animists and Christians will not be subject to Islamic law.
Khartoum insists on pushing for Islamic law throughout Sudan, and has rejected SPLA demands that it stop pumping oil as a condition for a ceasefire. The rebels say the government is using oil revenues to wage the war.
Nevertheless, most analysts have agreed that the initiative constitutes common ground for all sides and cannot be easily rejected.
The director of the Sudanese cultural and information center, Ahmed Al Bakri, said he thought that despite the secrecy of the Egyptian-Libyan proposal, all sides were certain that they represented the proper principles for all Sudanese parties.
Bakri said, “these proposals will face everyone with their historical responsibility to stop the bloodshed and maintain the unity, safety and security of Sudan, which faces eradication if clear thinking and patriotism do not come first.”
“All of the Sudanese parties must offer compromises in order to reach an acceptable formula,’’ added Bakri. “The Sudanese should formulate a clear vision, because the people cannot tolerate more pain.” – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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