The Prospects for “National Dialogue”

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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir speaks during a rally in El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, 24 February 24, 2010. AFP PHOTO/ASHRAF SHAZLY


Sudan: The Prospects for “National Dialogue”

Nairobi/Brussels: Prospects for an inclusive national dialogue President Omar al-Bashir promised in January 2014 are fading, making a soft-landing end to Sudan’s crises more doubtful. Sceptics who warned that the ruling party was unwilling and unable to make needed concessions have been vindicated. Peacemaking in Darfur and the Two Areas (Blue Nile and South Kordofan) and potential merging of these negotiations with the national dialogue were dealt a blow with suspension of African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP)-mediated “parallel” talks in Addis Ababa in December. A separate German-backed initiative has elicited a more unified and constructive approach from the armed and unarmed opposition, but no breakthrough yet. The government still holds many cards – including formidable means of coercion – and has little sympathy for the increasingly unified demand of the armed and political opposition for a really inclusive process and true power sharing. Unless both sides give ground, a continuation of intense war and humanitarian crises is inevitable.

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A comprehensive approach to peace in Sudan is as distant as ever. The ruling party does not want it. The opposition is divided. To find common ground, the past year of national dialogue needs to be re-set to include more parties, rebel groups, intercommunal talks and negotiations over humanitarian access to crisis areas.
Cedric Barnes, Horn of Africa Project Director, @CedricHoA

Cedric Barnes
Comfort Ero

Sudan’s President Bashir may believe his position is improving: regionally as rebels are distracted by South Sudan's civil wars, economically as oil price and sanctions pressures lessen and internationally through broader acceptance of his regime and the suspension of the International Criminal Court’s work in Darfur. But all this is fragile and reversible. Fundamental, dangerous weaknesses remain.
Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director, @EroComfort

Jean-Marie Guéhenno

As Western influence in Sudan dwindles, responsibility for mediating an end to fighting, encouraging inclusive dialogue and bearing the burden of instability mostly fall on the African Union, immediate African neighbours, Arab friends and China. Recently Germany and Russia have cultivated bilateral ties too. All these actors’ influence should be brought in to bear in preparing a new, more inclusive format for talks.
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, President & CEO, @JGuehenno







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