Sudanese Rebels, Islamist’s Party Agree to ‘Peacefully’ Resist Government
Sudan's southern rebels and a breakaway faction of Khartoum's ruling Islamist party said Tuesday they have agreed to use peaceful means to force President Omar al-Bashir to accept a multi-party government.
But the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said the "memorandum of understanding" it signed Monday in Switzerland with Hassan al-Turabi's Popular National Congress (PNC) did not mean it had to stop armed action.
It means the two sides will try to coordinate peaceful protests and strikes to force Beshir to "hand over power for a national consensus government," SPLA official Yasser Arman said when AFP in Cairo contacted him outside Geneva.
The first SPLA-PNC dialogue comes as Beshir moves to name a new government after he won a five-year term as president in elections in December that were boycotted by the opposition.
The understanding marks "a greater unity of action and vision" among the broad Sudanese opposition, said Arman, who signed the document with Turabi's cousin Omar Ibrahim Turabi, among others. "We have to consolidate that."
Turabi, also contacted in Switzerland, said "it represents a major development in Sudanese politics because there is a developing conviction among Sudanese parties that nobody can govern Sudan alone."
The memorandum, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, calls "for a historic settlement and comprehensive peaceful solution to the problems.
Such a solution requires "first of all to end the civil war through a just agreement, real democracy, and the voluntary unification of Sudan," the document said.
It underlined the "need for escalating peaceful popular resistance to force the regime to abandon its totalitarian policy."
The SPLA has waged a 17-year war against governments in Khartoum, including Bahsir's Islamist government which Hassan al-Turabi helped to seize power in a 1989 bloodless military coup.
Arman said the SPLA was opposed to a government that sought to impose Islamic fundamentalism on the rest of the country and did not reject the PNC as an Islamist political party.
Turabi insisted his party has never sought to impose Islamic law on the animist and Christian peoples of the south.
The SPLA has already joined forces with northern opposition groups in the National Democratic Alliance umbrella movement.
But Turabi's PNC, which broke away from Beshir's National Congress last year, is not a member of the NDA, many of whose parties want to keep a distance because of Turabi's role in the coup.
"We're encouraging a dialogue between the rest of the NDA and Turabi," Arman added – KHARTOUM (AFP)
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