Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir Monday called on the rebellion in the south of the country, led by John Garang, to embrace efforts toward peace through national reconciliation. He pledged his government will work on achieving peace by ending a 17-year-old civil war, Panafrican news agency reported.
Bashir’s remarks came as he took an oath for another five-year term in front of 12 African heads of state.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup, said reconciliation should be based on "mutual recognition between the government and opposition," said AFP.
Khartoum believes "citizenship is the basis of rights and obligations of the Sudanese" and that "expression of diversity must be possible," said Bashir, alluding to the war between predominantly Christian and animist southern separatists and the Arab and Muslim northern government.
According to Panafrican, Bashir preferred regional and bilateral initiatives such as the mediation of Libya, Egypt and the Inter- government Authority for Development (IGAD) to solve the Sudanese crisis instead of international involvement.
He vowed reactivation of the development of the southern provinces through a series of projects focusing on drinking water supply, the resumption of river and railroad transportation, and the construction and equipment of health centers, said the agency.
AFP quoted Bashir as telling lawmakers and guests that his government and the opposition "must reach a peaceful solution, as part of regional mediation," referring to efforts underway by Libya and Egypt, along with the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
Bashir also promised "multiparty elections," although he did not elaborate further.
Bashir, first elected in 1996, was declared the winner of a December presidential election, which was boycotted by northern opposition parties. The election was not held in several sections of the south controlled by the breakaway Garang’s Sudan People's Liberation Army.
He took the presidential oath before MPs elected in a parallel December vote and in front of 12 African heads of state, including Libya's Muammar Kadhafi and Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, who are in Khartoum for a summit of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (COMESSA).
The presence of these leaders was a "smart move," giving Bashir "regional recognition," a foreign diplomat who attended the ceremony told AFP.
Observers described Bashir’s address as “moderate,” said Panafrican – Albawaba.com
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