In Sudan, members of the former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement have resumed their participation in the national unity government of President Omar Al-Bashir. This comes after the chairman of the SPLM, Salva Kiir, who is also the national first vice president, lifted the group’s suspension of its membership in the government. The SPLM withdrew its ministers after accusing President Bashir’s National Congress party of refusing to implement the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which effectively ended a war between the north and the south.
From the capital, Khartoum SPLM Deputy Secretary-General Yasir Arman tells reporter Peter Clottey he hopes the newfound momentum leads to great things.
“We have issues with the government and with the National Congress that part of the article of the agreement has not been implemented, and also the partnership was undermined. And we did resolve those issues, with the exception of the issue of Abyei, which was left for the presidency,” Arman noted.
Abyei is a southern district bordering northern regions of Sudan. It has been a major sticking point between government and rebel negotiators over the Khartoum government’s resistance to a local referendum on the area’s regional status and government efforts to hold on to locally produced oil and oil revenues which are sought by the district’s own residents. Yasir Arman notes that despite continuing disagreement over Abyei, both the SPLM and the ruling National Congress Party have agreed to resolve other pressing problems that have plunged the country into its most recent political crisis.
“We have new a document where the implementation and the mechanism for the implementation are very clearly spelled out. And we reached an agreement with the National Congress. Our ministers were reshuffled, which the Movement did on our team and the cabinet. They resumed and they took those who are new among them, took the oath today, and they resumed their function within the national unity government,” he said.
Arman said although there was need for confidence building, the controversy surrounding the Abyei Protocol should be addressed.
“As you know, politics is not only about confidence. We did sign agreement, the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) with the National Congress. The agreement has been undermined in many ways. Now we have a corrected version. As I told you, the issue of Abyei has not been resolved. Yet it’s been left to the presidency, the president and the first vice president, who is at the same time chairman of the SPLM. And we think we can use this new momentum generated from this agreement to resolve the issues of Abyei,” Arman pointed out.
He said although the timing of the implementation of the 2005 agreement is important, the Abyei Protocol is of concern.
“The full implementation of course would be until the end of the interim period. But the protocol of the Abyei, it is the only protocol, which has not been implemented. It is zero-implemented, and we think this protocol is important for stability for peace and we have to implement it. And we are expecting things to move on the Abyei protocol soon,” he said.