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Saturday, 21 September 2019

Sudan's rebels want a role in transitional government

AP , Thursday 15 Aug 2019
Yesir Arman, a senior official in the Sudan Revolutionary Front,
Yesir Arman, a senior official in the Sudan Revolutionary Front, poses for a portrait Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in Cairo, Egypt. (AP)
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A Sudanese rebel alliance said Wednesday it should be represented in the transitional government formed by the military and the pro-democracy movement.

Yesir Arman, a senior official in the Sudan Revolutionary Front, told The Associated Press that the transitional government should end the long-running war in Darfur and integrate the rebels into the armed forces as part of an "agenda of peace.''

Sudan has been convulsed by rebellions in its far-flung provinces for decades. A cease-fire has held since the military overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April, and the rebels have joined the pro-democracy coalition, which includes the organizers of months of mass protests that eventually forced al-Bashir from power.

The SRF is an alliance of the largest rebel groups in Darfur, where the International Criminal Court has accused al-Bashir of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the early 2000s.

Arman spoke to the AP in Cairo, where his group held talks with the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the coalition representing the protesters, on changes to the agreement struck with the military. The military and the protesters initialed the agreement earlier this month and the formal signing is planned for Saturday.

"This process is complex. It's been viewed differently from the perspective of the Sudan Revolutionary Front. And also our allies in the FDFC, they have different priorities,'' Arman said. He echoed complaints by other members of the coalition that the FDFC lacks an organized decision-making body.

The power-sharing deal would create a joint military and civilian sovereign council to rule for a little over three years until elections can be held. The agreement would establish a Cabinet appointed by the activists, as well as a legislative body in which the protest coalition would have a majority.

The power-sharing deal calls for the government to reach a peace agreement with the rebels within six months. Arman said the rebels want assurances that any peace agreement would supersede the constitutional document reached between the military and the protesters. Otherwise, he said, "if there are contradictions, how are you going to resolve these contradictions?''

He said the rebels are also seeking a commitment to broad-based security reform, after decades in which al-Bashir and previous governments relied on an array of shadowy paramilitary groups to remain in power. He said the rebels should be included in one "professional army'' that represents all Sudanese communities.

"In Sudan now there are five armies. You cannot build democracy or development, sustainable development, or go to a civil state unless you resolve issues of war and issues of the security arrangement,'' he said.

He said his group is also pushing for the extradition of al-Bashir to the Hague to be tried by the ICC. The military jailed al-Bashir shortly after his overthrow and said he would not be extradited . Sudanese prosecutors have charged him with involvement in violence against protesters.

"Bashir should be taken to The Hague. We're very clear on that,'' Arman said. "It is not about Bashir, it's about how to bring a transitional justice, because there are millions of Sudanese (victims). Thousands of crimes have been committed.''

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