Sudan rebels want Parliament delayed until peace deal

Wednesday November 6 2019

A woman barbeques meat at the Abu Shouk camp

A woman barbeques meat at the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced persons about 20 kilometres north of El-Fasher, the capital of the North Darfur state, Sudan during the visit by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on November 5, 2019. Rebel groups engaged in peace talks with the government want the formation of a 300-member parliament delayed until an agreement is reached. PHOTO | ASHRAF SHAZLY | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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Sudanese rebel groups engaged in peace talks with Khartoum insisted Wednesday that the country's new parliament be formed only after an agreement is reached to end long-running conflicts in three border regions.

A power-sharing deal signed on August 17 between protest leaders and the generals who ruled Sudan after the April overthrow of president Omar al-Bashir stipulates that a 300-member parliament be formed within three months.

Since the signing of the so called "Constitutional Declaration", the transitional government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, has engaged in talks with three rebel groups to reach a peace deal to end the wars in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Rebel groups said that during talks in the South Sudanese capital of Juba, the two sides had agreed to delay the formation of a new parliament until a peace deal has been reached.

The groups said they would not give up their demand despite the protest movement's insistence on the original November 17 deadline stipulated by the Constitutional Declaration.

"The Sudanese Revolutionary Front rejects any unilateral attempt to violate the Juba declaration that aims to build confidence measures," the rebel alliance said in a statement.

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The SRF called on Khartoum to "stick to what has been agreed on" in Juba.

It urged Khartoum not to set off any "upheaval that might disturb the atmosphere and create a state of mistrust that will delay the reaching of peace, which our country is in desperate need of."

Two thirds of the parliamentary seats are reserved for the protest movement with the balance going to military generals, political parties and rebel groups.

Victims demand justice

Hamdok's government has made reaching a peace deal to end conflict in the country's three war zones a priority.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in the rebellions by ethnic minority groups in the three conflict zones that met with an iron fist from Bashir's ousted regime.

During his maiden tour of Darfur on Monday Hamdok said his government was working towards bringing peace to the region torn by conflict since 2003.

He met war victims in the town of Al-Fashir, the capital of North Darfur state that houses several camps where tens of thousands of displaced have been living for years.

"We want justice! Send all criminals of Darfur to the ICC (International Criminal Court)," chanted a crowd who met Hamdok as he visited camps in Al-Fashir.

Hamdok asked them to co-operate with the government in bringing peace to the region.

"We know the massacres that happened in Darfur... We will all work together to achieve your demands and ensure that normal life returns to Darfur," he said.

The Darfur conflict flared when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the then Arab-dominated government of Omar al-Bashir, accusing it of marginalising the region economically and politically.

Khartoum then applied what rights groups say was a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels - raping, killing, looting and burning villages.

About 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, the United Nations says.

Bashir is wanted by the Hague-based ICC for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Protest leaders said this week they have no objection to handing over Bashir, who denies the charges, to the Hague Court.

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