Sudan’s Bashir reaches a deal with opposition and will form a Unity Government

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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech during a ceremony to declare an end to 13 years of conflict in Darfur, on September 7, 2016, in the North Darfur state capital El-Fasher. PHOTO | AFP

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech during a ceremony to declare an end to 13 years of conflict in Darfur, on September 7, 2016, in the North Darfur state capital El-Fasher. PHOTO | AFP

By FRED OLUOCH

Posted  Saturday, October 8

IN SUMMARY

  • The government of national unity, officially known in Sudan as “A National Consensus Government” will be formed within 90 days from the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference on Monday.
  • Five heads of state have been invited and are expected to give President al-Bashir moral support as he makes the announcement that is likely to change the politics of the country since he came to power after a coup in 1989. They are Chadian President Idriss Deby, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
  • President al-Bashir launched the National Dialogue in 2014 to reach out to the opposition and end the political instability and rebellion in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir will form a government of national unity, bringing the opposition into the fold after two years of negotiations between his ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and other parties.

Officials in Khartoum said the president was expected to announce the unity government’s structure on October 10 at the National Dialogue conference in the capital city, where resolutions on a “New Sudan” will be read.

The government of national unity, officially known in Sudan as “A National Consensus Government” will be formed within 90 days from the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference on Monday.

Five heads of state have been invited and are expected to give President al-Bashir moral support as he makes the announcement that is likely to change the politics of the country since he came to power after a coup in 1989. They are Chadian President Idriss Deby, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Nimat Ali, the press attaché at the Sudan Embassy in Nairobi, said: “The Sudanese government needs the support of the region and the international community to turn the outcome of the conference into reality.”

President al-Bashir launched the National Dialogue in 2014 to reach out to the opposition and end the political instability and rebellion in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

Despite ruling the country with an iron fist since he came to power in June 1989 in a bloodless coup that overturned the government of prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, the 72-year-old President al-Bashir has been facing numerous challenges, both internal and external. Key among them has been how to diversify the economy after South Sudan seceded in July 2011 taking with it 75 per cent of the oil wells and in the face of crippling international sanctions and rebellion in three regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and Kordofan.

President al-Bashir has been facing intermittent street protests since 2012 when food prices soared in the wake of losing three quarters of the country’s oil output and inflation rose to an all-time high of 48 per cent.

He has also been grappling with US military sanctions that began with the country being designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993, followed by economic sanctions in 1997.

On October 3, the US administration lifted the sanctions on banking transactions, especially for humanitarian and individual purposes, but still retained Sudan on the list of terrorist sponsors. Indeed, one of the behind-the-scene deals that President al-Bashir made with the US to let the South go was for Washington to lift all sanctions and remove the country from the terrorist list.

Then there is also the challenge of the indictment by the International Criminal Court in 2009, which has restricted President al-Bashir’s movement internationally. He became the first sitting president to be indicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Internally, President al-Bashir has been facing pressure from within his NCP party, where Islamic hardliners blame him for having allowed the South to secede. This is what caused his mentor, Hassan al-Turabi, to leave the party and form his own Popular Congress Party.

Elusive peace?

Despite President al-Bashir’s efforts for an all-inclusive government, Sudan experts say that it will not guarantee peace in the country because the government is yet to reach a comprehensive agreement with the rebel outfits across the country.

Veteran journalist, Adil Ahmed Elbaz, told The EastAfrican that the main objective of the national dialogue was to stop the war across the country but since the rebels are not going to be part of the unity government, peace will continue to be elusive.

The negotiations between the rebels that has been taking place in  Addis Ababa under the African Union High Implementation Panel led by former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, have stalled over the terms of a permanent ceasefire.

The rebels include the Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Malik Agar, and the three rebel movements based in Darfur — the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) led by Minni Minnawi, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA-AW) led by Abdul Wahid and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

SPLM-N spokesperson, Mubarak Ardol, said that while his party has been negotiating for peace and national unity, the National Dialogue Conference has been working on the fragmentation of the Sudan through incitement and arming the tribes against each other.

Source: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/Bashir-government-of-national-unity-seeks-to-usher-in-New-Sudan/2558-3409534-item-1-15n1f0t/index.html