Sudan vice president reaches out to rebels

AFP , Tuesday 26 Mar 2013

Khartoum government invites all the rebel groups to participate in drafting the Sudanese new constitution

Sudanese rebels are welcome to join talks on a new constitution for the country, a top government official said on Tuesday, reaching out to a group with whom the regime had long rejected dialogue.

The invitation by the country's most powerful vice president, Ali Osman Taha, comes as tensions ease with neighbouring South Sudan.

Khartoum's accusation that the South's government in Juba backed rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) was the major impediment to improved bilateral relations.

But at his first news conference in more than two years, Taha singled out SPLM-N chairman Malik Agar and deputy chairman Abdel Aziz Al-Hilu.

Taha called on them, as well as opposition political parties, to join the constitution-making process.

"Malik Agar and Abdel Aziz Al-Hilu have the same right, as all Sudanese people, to participate in this new constitution," said Taha.

Sudan needs a new constitution to replace the 2005 document based on a peace agreement which ended Sudan's 23-year civil war and led to South Sudan's separation in July 2011.

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