SPLM-N’s Arman lays bare regime-change agendas in Sudan

October 4, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)

The Secretary General of the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Yasir Arman, has clarified that recent political events in the country led his group to reconsider the framework agreement it negotiated with Khartoum last June and adopt regime-change agendas.

Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the armed opposition SPLM-N inked on 28 June a framework agreement brokered by the former South African president Thabo Mbeki to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the armed conflict which started on 5 June between the two parties in South Kordofan State.

The deal, which was signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, also established a political partnership between the two parties to address the outstanding issues in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, particularly the popular consultation vote and integration of SPLM-N forces into Sudan’s army (SAF).

However, President Omer Hassan al-Bashir rejected the deal some days after. He also emphasised that talks can only continue between the two parties inside the country and without an external mediator.

The SPLM-N at the time reacted vigorously to the presidential position and it reiterated no talks with the Sudanese government without Addis Ababa framework agreement.

"We in the SPLM-N are now beyond the framework agreement", Arman told Sudan Tribune in Paris where he held meetings with officials from the French government and political parties. He stressed that there are new developments since last June that led them to reassess their position.

These developments, according to Arman, are represented in the facts that the NCP government had slapped a ban on the SPLM-N’s activities, arrested thousands of its members, and removed its chairman Malik Agar from his position as governor of Blue Nile State following the eruption of clashes there between the two parties on 1 September.

Arman further pointed out the large-scale violations of human rights committed in the country, particularly in the two war-hit states.

"Now we want a solution for all the problems of Sudan, which is regime change", he said.

The SPLM-N Secretary General underlined that this "holistic approach" would also bring about an end to the eight year war in the western region of Darfur as well as normalisation of relations with the newly independent state of South Sudan. Furthermore, he stressed that the end of this regime would lead to ending the economic crisis caused by the corruption of its officials, civil wars, and the economic sanctions imposed on the country.

Asked about how the SPLM-N and its allies intend to deal with the traditional political forces which, despite their opposition to the regime, refuse to hold arms against the government, Arman said they believe that all the Sudanese forces can contribute to overthrowing Al-Bashir’s government.

He also pointed out that before the collapse of the regime, there should be a broad coalition between the political and social forces such as the trade unions. He said such an alliance could be established on the basis of a political platform for the entire country.

After the fall of the NCP, Arman said a constitutional conference should be organised with the participation of all the political forces in order to lay down the basis for a new democratic system in Sudan.

The SPLM-N and Darfur rebel movements, mainly two factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur and Minni Minnawi, in August forged a political and military alliance in the SPLM-N’s stronghold of Kaoda in South Kordofan to coordinate efforts in order to overthrow Al-Bashir’s government and establish a secular state where religion and politics are clearly separated.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which is part of the alliance, did not endorse the issue of a secular state and called for a citizenship state where the role of religion can be maintained in different areas related to the personal sphere like the personal status law.

Asked about how to reconcile such different political viewpoints in this large alliance which might also include the Popular Congress Party (PCP) of Hassan Al-Turabi, which also calls for an Islamic state, Arman said the most important is to agree on a political agenda and a constitutional framework for Sudan.

"Insisting on the secular state or the citizenship should not hinder the establishment of a democratic state in Sudan with a clear vision for a diverse and plural nation," he said.

He pointed out that the National Umma Party of former Prime Minister Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani – the biggest opposition parties – also indicated favouring of the citizenship state.

"And this does not mean they [NUP and DUP] support the idea of a totalitarian regime", he pointed out.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zinawi is undertaking a difficult mediation between the government and the SPLM-N; but the positions of the two parties continue to shift according to political and military factors.

Arman is undertaking an international tour to explain the positions of the SPLM-N which is fighting against the government troops in the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.


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