The SPLM-N on the Talks with the Sudan Government 19 November 2015, Addis Abba, Ethiopia

The Opening Remarks of the SPLM-N on the Talks with the Sudan Government
19 November 2015, Addis Abba, Ethiopiasrf

Your Excellency, President Thabo Mbeki, Chair of the AUHIP,
The Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Haile Menkerios,
The Representative of IGAD and the Government of Ethiopia,
The leader of the Sudan government delegation, Ibrahim Mahmoud,
Members of the Two Delegations,
Ladies and Gentleman of the Press and Media,

The current negotiations provided again a unique and rare chance to stop the war all over Sudan from Blue Nile and South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains to Darfur and to address the humanitarian crisis and the root causes of war as part of a comprehensive political process that will lead to a credible national constitutional dialogue that shall address how Sudan is going to be governed instead of who governs it and to redefine our national project in a way that we will all subscribe and contribute to it. A national project into which we will all be stakeholders as equal citizens with equal constitutional rights that are not based in religion or ethnic affiliations. This process has to address the particularities of the three war zones, the Two Areas and Darfur, in a Sudan that is united on a new basis and in a manner that would provide a model for other areas in the Sudan, and that will provide new opportunities for women, youth and disadvantaged groups all over Sudan.

We are here today at a time where there is national, regional and international support for a comprehensive peaceful settlement. We are here to implement the African Peace and Security Resolution 539 and UN Security Council Resolution 2046. It is encouraging for us in the SPLM-N that this 10th round of talks is focusing on the need to reach a humanitarian cessation of hostilities that would address the needs of millions of Sudanese in the three war zones. The political process and the national constitutional dialogue would be meaningless if it did not stop the aerial bombardment on the civilian populations and if it did not open the access for humanitarian assistance as a right for the civilian populations. Denying it is a war crime in international humanitarian law.

We would like to reiterate our full commitment to making this round of talks successful. Our delegation, which is comprised of 21 delegates, who are not all members of our movement, but who truly reflect the diversity of Sudan and reflect our vision of building unity in diversity and reaching to the wider audience of Sudan, is coming with an open heart and mind to examine all of the possibilities and different options that will lead both parties to sign an agreement on a humanitarian cessation of hostilities. It is encouraging that both parties made declarations of intention on bi-lateral cessation of hostilities. It is time now for action for a joint agreement that will provide humanitarian assistance and monitoring of the cessation of hostilities through the facilitation of the AUHIP and the support of the regional and international communities. It is worth mentioning that despite the declarations of intention, the aerial bombardment of the civilians has continued to-date and the SPLM-N’s position has been attacked in Blue Nile and there are continued preparations from the government’s side to launch more attacks in South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile during their annual dry season offensive. We believe that it is this forum which can provide us with an opportunity for a concrete joint humanitarian cessation of hostilities instead of accusations and counter accusations. We hereby, again, appeal to the Sudan government to facilitate the visit of President Thabo Mbeki and the AUHIP to the Two Areas and Darfur to inject a new momentum in the peace process and to provide a hope for the civilian populations on both sides of the conflict that the peace is approaching and the mediation is not only available for them in Addis Ababa, but it is reaching out to them in the conflict zones. We would like President Mbeki and his team to meet the ordinary suffering citizens and to hear from them their concerns and aspirations of how best we can end this conflict in the interest of all Sudanese.

As we are meeting here, it is important to utilize this chance to support the AUHIP to convene in the near future the preparatory meeting of the national dialogue in their effort to implement the African Union Peace and Security Resolution 539, which provided 90 days for its implementation. We are almost running out of time. It is important that we fix the date and we extend an inclusive invitation that shall provide a new chance for a comprehensive political process that will stop the war, provide freedoms, address the procedural issues, and give the AUHIP a chance to facilitate and to solicit the support of the region and the international community.

The Sudan Call forces, in their meeting in Paris from the 10th to the 13th of this month, renewed their support for a credible national dialogue and humanitarian cessation of hostilities and they have developed their joint effort to work together to achieve a just, comprehensive peace and democracy in Sudan.

The SPLM-N is committed to a one peace process with two tracks, and we will coordinate with our colleagues in the other track to achieve a comprehensive cessation of hostilities in the Two Areas and Darfur. The SRF has a joint roadmap in this regard. Peace is only meaningful if it is for all Sudanese. A piecemeal solution will never take Sudan into the future.

The SPLM-N, in its search to end the war in the Two Areas within a holistic approach and a comprehensive political process for all Sudan and in order for us to develop a clear position on what the peoples of the Two Areas want through a process that will involve the stakeholders in the Two Areas, had a workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania last month. We discussed the end game of the Two Areas, and in particular, the full autonomy for the Two Areas within a united Sudan and its relations to the security arrangement, equal citizenship, power and wealth arrangements, the relation between religion and state, and the link between the national and the Two Areas arrangement. We will continue this process as part of our search for a durable peace. It is also worth mentioning that for the last two years, we have been working with highly respected Sudanese experts on alternative program policies and we had a retreat in three different locations to develop this program, which is expected in the very near future as part of our search for a new future agenda for Sudan.

We are going to provide new ideas in this round of talks on the issues of access, monitoring, and reaching a humanitarian cessation of hostilities, and we believe that the sisterly country of Ethiopia, the WFP and UNICEF can play a vital role in the humanitarian assistance and polio campaigns as part of this process.

Lastly, let me express the SPLM-N’s deep appreciation for the effort of the AUHIP and its chair, former President Thabo Mbeki, who became part of modern Sudanese history in the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan, which is part of his intellectual commitment to build an African common agenda and a common agenda for humanity. Thank you very much indeed.

Yasir Arman
On behalf of the SPLM-N Delegation to the Addis Ababa Peace Talks
19 November 2015