This briefing note on the recent negotiations in Addis Ababa is issued by Sudan Democracy First Group. Next week, this will be followed with a detailed update on the three themes of the Addis Ababa’s Talks: humanitarian aid, cessation of hostilities and the preparatory meeting for comprehensive national dialogue.
On 23rd November 2015 the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) announced the suspension of negotiations between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) on the one side, and between the GoS and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement Minnawi (SLM-M) on the other.
The failed negotiations, which lasted from 19th to 23rd of November 2015 were aimed at addressing three main issues: the delivery of humanitarian aid; the cession of hostilities; and a preparatory meeting for a comprehensive national dialogue process.
This round of talks is the second in the AUHIP-sponsored process on ending the war in Darfur, and the tenth in addressing issues in the “Two Areas” (Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan/Nuba Mountains) as mandated by African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) Communiqués 456 and 539. These AUPSC resolutions stressed the importance of a finding comprehensive solution to both the conflicts and governance crisis in Sudan through one process with two tracks: one on ending the multiple wars and the other, a political dialogue.
At the top of the agenda at the recent negotiations was the need to resolve the humanitarian crises resulting from the wars in Darfur, Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan/Nuba Mountains. This was envisaged as including a cessation of hostilities in all the war zones, halting aerial bombardment and allowing the flow of foods and medications to the millions of victims in the areas.
However, the GoS delegation showed that its priority within the two-track process was neither humanitarian nor cessation of hostilities. The delegation’s war agenda became clear in their attempt to exploit the humanitarian issues by manipulating the process, and to pressure the parties to participate in the regime’s Wathba national dialogue rather than the AU stewarded process.
This intent was revealed a day after the failure of Addis negotiations in the announcement by the Chief of the GoS delegation and the Minister of Defence on 24th November 2015 of a declaration by the President to end the temporary ceasefire and launch a new military offensive and expanded military deployment in the three war regions.
The collapse of last week’s negotiations—and the lack of good faith which characterized the GoS engagement—was also reflected in the GoS’s continued pressure on, and denial of fundamental freedoms to, those involved in political and civil society work in Sudan. This repression was in stark contrast to the GoS’s statements in the national dialogue in the need an enabling environment for the continuation of the Wathba National Dialogue process. Since 24th November 2015—the day after the collapse of the talks—there has been a new round of arrests of political activists, civilians and university students. These include the leaders of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) and the forced confinement of political opposition forces inside the premises of a political party. In addition, leaders of the Civil Society Initiative (CSI) and the NCF had their travel documents confiscated and were banned from travelling.
The Sudanese Revolutionary Front’s (SRF) members which participated in the two-track process had expressed their full commitment to a joint position, which they shared with the Sudan Call Forces in their meetings in Paris between 10th and 13th of November. This had acknowledged the need for a cessation of hostilities for humanitarian purposes as key condition for a genuine and comprehensive national dialogue.
The AUHIP has called for a preparatory meeting on a comprehensive dialogue in the first week of December. It is difficult to envisage how this meeting can take place in the context of the failure of the negotiations: further, any future calls for dialogue or negotiations will face serious challenges. Regional and international pressure is urgently needed in order to reach any solutions for Sudan’s multiple crisis.