London/Washinton, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Secretary General of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM], Pagan Amum, sent a message to the people of Sudan, calling for them to assemble in front of the National Council [Sudanese Parliament] next Monday to demand the necessary laws for democratization be ratified. Amum also accused the ruling National Congress party of trying to reproduce the crisis and return [the country] to a state of war by going back on agreements.
Amum told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Sudan is passing through a dangerous stage” and that the opposition parties that recently met at the Juba summit have taken the decision to initiate a public movement for freedom, peace, and unity in the country. He added, “We call on our people in the capital to meet this coming Monday and assemble in front of parliament to demand that the necessary laws needed to achieve democratization are passed, particularly national security and trade union laws, so that the forthcoming elections are free and fair.”
Amum noted the importance of implementing the remaining points of the Naivasha agreement without disruption or delay, particularly the right of self-determination for the people of southern Sudan, as well as the Abyei referendum, and the popular consultation for South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Amum said, “Sudan needs to change direction immediately.” He also accused the National Congress Party of working to reproduce the crisis and return Sudan to civil war by denouncing the agreements and going back on democratization. “We must encourage them to change this course and move towards freedom and peace-building,” added Amum.
In Washington, the US Special Envoy to Sudan Retired Major General Scott Gration faced criticism at the Congressional Sub-Committee on Africa and Global Health as a number of congressmen accused him of being too lenient towards Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s regime. However Gration defended himself and President Obama’s new policy towards Sudan, saying that senior US officials will meet in Washington in January to assess the extent of Sudan’s support of US objectives, and to determine whether to punish or reward Sudan accordingly, with this including the possibility of imposing new sanctions on the country.
Gration said that the US wants Sudan to remove terrorist groups active on its soil, put an end to the violence in Darfur, and initiate the peace process between the north and the south. The US Envoy to Sudan stressed that achieving these demands is a condition for improving relations between the US and Khartoum. He added, “There are people that we negotiated with in the National Congress Party, who are part of that government. That is the only way we can reach agreements.”
In his testimony before the congressional committee, Gration defended Obama’s policy towards Sudan saying that this aims to end the problems in Darfur and southern Sudan, as well as put a stop to the al-Bashir government’s support of terrorism. He said that Obama’s policy includes general elections being held in Sudan next year, with a referendum in southern Sudan on the issue of secession or unity being held the year after that. Gration also expressed his concern over the tribal clashes taking place in southern Sudan, stressing that the US will exert effort to put an end to these clashes prior to the elections.
For his part, republican Senator Sam Brownback told the congressional panel, “I am terribly troubled by this situation. Obama’s new policy would actually offer incentives to war criminals.”
Congressional Committee’s chairman, Democrat Congressman Donald Payne said that the successive failures to put an end to violence in Darfur are “a caner that will destroy the moral fibre of our society.” Congressman Payne added, “I sometimes wonder if we will ever get a lasting peace in Sudan as long as al-Bashir is in power.”