22 March 2016
On 21 March 2016 and in a clear violation and departure of the well-recognized international standard and ground rules of mediation and negotiation, the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), headed by the former South African President Thabo Mbeki, signed, as a witness, a Road Map Agreement (RMA) with the Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP). All other opposition forces which were invited, by the AUHIP Chairman, to attend the strategic consultation meeting that took place in Addis Ababa between the 18th, and the 21st, of March 2016, announced their objection to the RMA and hence refuse to affix their signature to the document. The opposition forces that attended the opening session of the meetings included the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement – Minni Minawi (SLM-M), Sudan People Liberation Movement-North (SPLMN), and the National Umma Party (NUP). The Chair of the AUHIP, presented a RMA that was essentially intended to push the opposition forces to take part in the discredited National Dialogue in Khartoum, which was organized, supervised and managed by the Government of Sudan (GoS), without implementing the necessary prerequisites that would ensure inclusivity, impartiality, and seriousness of the process.
The Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) would like to point to the unprecedented deviation of the AUHIP Chair from the rules and regulations that govern mediation between the parties of the Sudanese crisis. This was apparent in the mismanagement of negotiations during the consultation meeting and the inconsistent terms of the RMA that tried to link the security arrangements and the National Dialogue in a way that completely neglected the context pertaining these issues. The terms of the document had also violated the mandate and clauses of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) communiques number 456 and 593. The referenced communiques, recognized the importance of holding a national dialogue preparatory meeting in Addis Ababa that will bring together all stakeholders including the National Consensus Forces (NCF) and the Civil Society Initiative (CSI). Yet these entities, NCF and CSI, were deliberately excluded and not invited by the AUHIP to attend this meeting. As such, the mediation was basically trying to replace the said preparatory meeting with a none inclusive consultative one. Moreover, the AUPSC communiques have also made it clear that for an inclusive national and constitutional dialogue to take place, the GoS is required to create a conducive environment for a genuine, inclusive and just dialogue. President Mbeki has completely disregarded these communiques by forcing this unilateral RMA which practically has discarded all the previous efforts exerted, to achieve a just peace and a genuine democratic transformation, by the African Union and the international community. To add insult to injury, the document gives a false and undeserved legitimacy to the crippled national dialogue in Khartoum.
The AUHIP decision to acknowledge and sign the RMA with one party to the conflict in Sudan, is a testimony to its partiality and overt support of the ruling NCP. Moreover, the hastiness through which the Chair of the AUHIP elected to conclude the consultation and pass the RMA, only after four days of a unique gathering that brought together, for the first time, armed and civil opposition groups, has resulted in the refusal of these groups to sign the document. In addition, the failure of the AUHIP to compel the regime in Sudan to implement any of the prerequisites stipulated in the two mentioned AUPSC communiques during the last year, particularly the government’s negotiating position pertaining to Darfur and the two areas, during all previous rounds of negotiations have increased skepticism about the impartiality, seriousness and the ability of the AUHIP to successfully manage this or any other negotiations.
SDFG believes that the position of the AUHIP is an explicit support the policies of the Bashir regime and would lead to the escalation of the ongoing military campaigns in Darfur around Jebel Marra, in South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains and in Blue Nile around Kilqo Mountain area. Moreover, such a position will also encourage the regime to continue its repressive policies through more restriction on all freedoms.
The refusal of the credible opposition forces signifies a positive step the direction of unifying all opposition forces as well as a keenness to realize a just and lasting peace, democracy and equality through a credible and genuine dialogue.
Sudan Democracy First Group