A Summary of What Took Place in Berlin in the Informal Negotiations between the SPLM-N and the Sudan Government In the formal negotiations, we addressed partial and tactical issues such as the cessation of hostilities and the preparatory meeting. However, in those meetings, we did not focus on the ultimate goal of the political process (the end game). This required that each side put its cards on the table, which allowed the SPLM-N to put forward its demands in an open atmosphere. At the same time, informal negotiations allowed the Sudan government to show the extent of its readiness to pay the dues for this process. On the other hand, informal negotiations are by nature non-binding, except if an agreement is reached. The recent informal negotiations took place directly between the two delegations without the presence of the mediators inside the room, although they were present in the vicinity of the talks. We set out our aims clearly, we were positive towards the other side, and we gave detailed proposals on different issues, which have never been reciprocated by the government side. Despite this, they clearly rejected our demands. Our purpose of having the informal negotiations is clear. It does not include having secret or bilateral deals as has been rumored. The Asks of the SPLM-N: Open Humanitarian Access: Taking into account Darfur’s experience and the regime’s control of humanitarian access and the weakness of the UN institutions in Sudan, we have called, in accordance with international humanitarian law, for diversified humanitarian access internally from Alubayid and Aldamazin, externally from Ethiopia and South Sudan and by air from Kenya. Access needs to be negotiated by the parties to the conflict not to be left for the United Nation agencies, which are implementation agencies. Given the long suffering of the civilian populations in the Two Areas, denial of access for 5 years, which constitutes a war crime in international humanitarian law, the SPLM-N will call for the need to separate the humanitarian issues from the political track and the humanitarian not be tied to any political agendas, in accordance with international humanitarian law. We call for the right of citizens to receive humanitarian assistance according to international humanitarian law. We demand that the regime is not to be allowed to subject the humanitarian issue to any political agenda or to a time-buying policy. A Second New Phase of a Credible National Dialogue: We proposed to the government that it concludes its current Friendship Hall dialogue in Khartoum and that it holds a preparatory meeting with the participation of Sudan Call forces, Reform Now Movement, and with the consultation of other opposition sides in order to begin a second and new phase of the dialogue. We also proposed that the government accepts that the dialogue be facilitated and supervised by the AUHIP, and that a suitable position be made available for President Bashir within the dialogue structure given that he is the one who called for it. We stressed on the importance of having facilitators from the AUHIP given that they will be the ones presenting their reports to the AU, the AUPSC, the UNSC, and relevant international organizations by the end of the dialogue. These tasks cannot be performed by President Bashir. Moreover, Bashir is the head of a party participating in the dialogue and cannot act as both judge and opponent. In the round of the Addis Abba informal talks, the government delegation asked that they consult the President and now they have rejected these proposals in Berlin.New Security Arrangements for the SPLA-N and a Professional Army for the Country not the Party:First, the SPLM-N supports the creation of one Sudanese national army that mirrors Sudan’s diversity and serves national interests. Second, we called for deep reforms in the current army and in its military doctrine so that it defends Sudan and not to engage in internal wars against Sudanese. The politicization process of the military institution, which has led to the expulsion of its best officers, must be stopped. The army must be for the country not for the party so that the SPLM-N forces could integrate into one Sudanese army, and that these reforms include all security sectors.Third, the SPLM-N is to be redeployed in the Two Areas, a joint defense board to be established within the process of building one army and until the implementation of the political agreement and the reform of the Armed Forces were confirmed. The government delegation refused this and called for an immediate integration of the SPLA-N in a maximum period of one year. Autonomy for the Two Areas: The SPLM-N is committed to the unity of Sudan based on new foundations. What matters to us regarding the issue of autonomy is not the name but the content: special arrangements for the Two Areas are required, with legislative and executive powers stated in the national constitution. Resources are to be allocated for development and administration, local wealth to be distributed between the centre and these regions and issues of citizenship, land and others are to be resolved within the framework of the national constitutional process. The government delegation alleged that they did not understand these demands. Simultaneous Ending of the War in the Two Areas and Darfur: The SPLM-N insists on a synchronized stopping of the war in the Two Areas and in Darfur. This would be beneficial to the people, the economy, politics and external relations. The government delegation however is after a partial solution which will not be attained. Relation between Religion and the State: The SPLM-N proposed that the state stands at an equal distance from all religions. Practice has revealed the falseness of using religion and religious slogans in order to monopolize power, disseminate corruption and oppress people. Citizenship equality cannot be attained without the establishment of a civic, democratic state which does not accept religious discrimination or religious manipulation. We are for equal citizenship without discrimination. This will be a key element in any future national dialogue we engage in. What Have We Reached in the Informal Negotiations? We have come to the conclusion that the current political process is not genuine and lacks credibility. It is being used to reproduce the regime and to buy time. All our positive proposals have been rejected. This places us in a positive stance before our people, the mediators and the regional and international communities. As we have stated before, the SPLM-N will put forward new ideas before the Sudanese forces of change aimed at developing a political position that is in line with our people’s interests and that puts an end to the time-buying process. Negotiations: Some call upon us to reject the negotiations. Refusing negotiations means rejecting the resolutions of regional and international organizations and refusing to discuss the humanitarian issue. We are the only political organization responsible for managing the affairs of more than one million citizens in the liberated areas and a significant part of the international borders with two neighboring countries. Rejecting negotiations will allow the regime to shirk its responsibilities, and it will involve the SPLM-N into regional and international complications. Hence our decision is to negotiate, to fight and to carry out a popular uprising. Fighting is imposed on us. We understand that without giving lessons to others nor do we accept to be given lessons in this regard. We offer martyrs and it is from them that we learn our lessons first and foremost before learning them from anyone else. A New Opportunity to Consolidate the Unity of the Opposition: The obstruction of the political process and the failure of the so-called national dialogue in Khartoum, the continuation of war, the stifling economic and livelihood crises, the failure of the external normalization of relations despite the participation in the Yemen war, the divisions within the interest groups in the NCP and most of all our people’s strong desire for change all represent a new opportunity to consolidate the unity of the change forces around a minimum level program and a unified leadership to overthrow the regime as long as they are refusing a comprehensive peaceful settlement.
Yasir Arman Chairperson of the SPLM-N Delegation
26 January 2016