Sudanese Opposition Ready to Attend Peace Conference
Sudan's southern and northern opposition groups are ready to attend a peace conference, in the wake of a government announcement that it has accepted an Egyptian-Libyan initiative, opposition leader Pagan Amum said Thursday.
Amum, who is secretary general of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and a member of the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army, told AFP: "We've (also) accepted the initiative. Of course, acceptance means a readiness to go to" such a conference.
The ruling Sudanese National Conference Party leadership unconditionally has agreed to an Egyptian-Libyan peace initiative calling for the creation of a four-year interim government to oversee elections.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Othman Ismael said on Wednesday that President Omar Al Bashir had presided over a meeting of party leaders at which the nine-article initiative was approved.
“The party leadership decided to ask the countries making the initiative to take the necessary actions for its implementation,” said the minister, cited by Al Jazeera satellite channel, adding that “The leadership will also unite the north and south political powers to support the initiative.”
Ismael said a meeting would be held to map out the steps toward the formation of a new government and passing amendments to the Constitution.
“The agreement of the opposition on the initiative is encouraging,” the minister added.
Bur the Sudanese opposition has expressed doubts about the credibility of the initiative, saying it will not achieve peace in Sudan because it ignores key demands, including self-determination for the people of the south and the separation of religion and state.
Bashir said late last month that he would devote the coming year to achieving peace in his war-torn country.
Addressing a ceremony commemorating the 12th anniversary of his seizure of power in a coup d'etat, Beshir said achieving peace "will be one of our greatest battles in the new year," -- his 13th in power since June 1989.
"We will reach peace whatever the difficulties may be," Bashir vowed, noting that development programs which he said were being launched in southern Sudan would help the peace process.
Bashir said he was willing to improve relations with all countries, without mentioning any one in particular.
"We are ready to establish positive relations with all countries of the world based on mutual interests and non-interference in the domestic affairs of any country," said Bashir in his televised speech.
A new version of the Egyptian-Libyan peace initiative was late last month unanimously adopted by an assembly of Sudanese southern and northern opposition groups.
The opposition groups have unanimously approved a new version of the initiative that calls for a transitional government.
The National Democratic Alliance, which includes the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army and northern opposition groups, "unanimously approved" the plan last month following three days of meetings in Cairo, NDA spokesman Hatem Al Sir Ali said.
Diplomats from Egypt and Libya late last month submitted the plan in a memorandum 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 was a "new version" of the one first proposed by Libya and Egypt two years ago, adding that it contained 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 pluralist 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 neighborly 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 of an immediate cessation of fighting.
At that time, Ali said Khartoum had rejected the plan.
However, a Sudanese government official was quoted by AFP as saying late last month in Khartoum that the memorandum was "under study" by the Sudanese authorities – Albawaba.com
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