SUDAN WATCH: Sudanese President Bashir tells parliament "I invite all the parties to a dialogue"

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sudanese President Bashir tells parliament "I invite all the parties to a dialogue"

In a report published last week, Geneva-based Small Arms Survey said that north and south Sudan have been engaged in an arms race for the past four years.

"With ongoing violence in southern Sudan and Darfur, and mounting tensions between northern and southern governments, persisting arms flows should be a cause for great concern in the international community," said Eric Berman, Small Arms Survey Managing Director.

The president confirmed this weekend that he will stand in the April elections.

"We wish to have general elections without violence. I invite all the parties to a dialogue... in order to reach a positive climate to hold elections," Bashir told parliament.

Source: Report from Khartoum by Guillaume Lavallee (AFP), 5 October 2009:
Sudan's Beshir invites opposition for dialogue
Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir on Monday invited the country's opposition for talks aimed at avoiding clashes in next year's general election, a week after they threatened to boycott it.

"We wish to have general elections without violence. I invite all the parties to a dialogue... in order to reach a positive climate to hold elections," Beshir told parliament.

Africa's largest country is to hold presidential, parliamentary and local elections in April 2010, its first general election since 1986.

After Beshir's coup in 1989, subsequent votes were slammed as a sham by the country's opposition.

Southern former rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), who now share a unity government with Beshir's National Congress Party, joined other opposition parties last week in threatening to boycott elections if the laws guaranteeing basic freedoms are not passed by November 30.

After its decades-long north-south civil war, Sudan adopted an interim constitution guaranteeing freedoms but the text clashed with old laws that remain in place.

"We will receive the laws and harmonise them with the constitution," Beshir said, adding that a new national commission for human rights will also be formed.

"This parliamentary session comes at a crucial moment," said Beshir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in the war-torn western region of Darfur.

The president confirmed this weekend that he will stand in the April elections.

Analysts say the SPLM and opposition parties are considering fielding a candidate jointly but no announcement has yet been made.

Insecurity in Darfur and increasing violence in south Sudan where 2,000 people have died in ethnic clashes since the beginning of the year, could also threaten the elections, analysts say.

Southern leaders have accused Beshir of arming ethnic militias in order to destabilise the south ahead of elections and a key referendum scheduled for 2011 on independence for the resource-rich but impoverished region.

"We want to find a solution to tensions in the south and we are prepared to help create an appropriate climate for the elections and the referendum," Beshir said.

In a report published last week, Geneva-based Small Arms Survey said that north and south Sudan have been engaged in an arms race for the past four years.

"With ongoing violence in southern Sudan and Darfur, and mounting tensions between northern and southern governments, persisting arms flows should be a cause for great concern in the international community
," said Eric Berman, Small Arms Survey Managing Director.

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