Sudan's Bashir Complains West Pushing for Secular Sudan

Published June 24th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Sudan's President Omar Bashir complained in remarks published Saturday that the West is trying to push Khartoum to abandon Islamic law as a prelude to peace. 

Bashir criticized a recent meeting in Oslo of the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) Partners Forum (IPF) for focusing on an IGAD bid to end the 17-year-old war while ignoring a separate Egyptian-Libyan initiative. 

"The outcome of the Oslo meeting was not a surprise to us because we are aware of the special agenda that motivates IGAD partners", Bashir told the independent Al-Ayam newspaper. 

"From the outset, (IGAD) has put forward only two options -- acceptance of a united secular Sudan or granting the south the right to self-determination," he said, implying that the IPF aims to pressure the Sudanese government to abandon Islamic law. 

The peace initiative by IGAD, an east-African body grouping seven east-African countries, covers the conflict between Khartoum and the southern rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). 

The more recent joint initiative by Egypt and Libya calls for reconciliation between the government and all Sudan's armed and political opposition groups. 

"How come the United States, Britain and other IPF members be allowed a role in resolving Sudanese issues while Egypt, Libya and other Arab states be denied such a role?" he asked. 

The IGAD Partners Forum, which includes 25 Western countries and international organizations, met in Oslo Monday and Tuesday and plays a mainly financial role in IGAD's bid to resolve the war with the SPLA. 

"Egypt and Libya are most entitled to play a role in Sudan in view of the geographic and historic ties and their common destiny," Bashir said. 

Sudan has said it would back the "coordination and combination" of the IGAD peace initiative with the Egyptian-Libyan one. 

The opposition Umma Party, meanwhile, has declared a new initiative for national reconciliation based on an agreement reached by Bashir and Umma leader, Sadek Mahdi, in Djibouti last November. 

Senior Umma Party official, Ali Hassan Taj el-Din, was quoted by Al-Rai Al-Akher daily Saturday as saying his party is offering this "national initiative" after the "stumbling" of the Egyptian-Libyan bid and the failure of the Oslo conference in bringing the IGAD and Egyptian-Libyan initiatives together. 

The Umma Party initiative "does not nullify the joint (Egyptian-Libyan) initiative but aims at reaching a Sudanese solution without guardianship," Taj el-Din said. 

The national initiative stresses the need to reach a comprehensive political solution to Sudan's political crisis through a conference in which all political forces would take part, he added - KHARTOUM (AFP) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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