April 2, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir vowed to exert every possible effort to achieve peace during this year describing the protesters’ demands as “legitimate”.
Large protests have been ongoing across Sudanese cities since 19 December. The demonstrations first began over fuel shortages and a hike in food prices but have now morphed into full-fledged protests calling for al-Bashir to step down.
The Sudanese government has confirmed the deaths of 31 people in the course of the protests but other credible reports including from Human Rights Watch say more than 51 persons have been killed.
Speaking at an opening session of the parliament on Monday, al-Bashir renewed the call for opposition inside Sudan and abroad to participate in the peace process, stressing commitment to all references of the peace talks.
He said the war has receded due to efforts exerted by the Sudan Armed Forces and the rest of the regular forces, pointing out to the gradual withdrawal of the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) from the region.
“We also renew our commitment to a permanent ceasefire and full and sincere readiness to engage in the dialogue to achieve peace at any price,” he said
The Sudanese president also renewed the call for the holdout opposition to accept the dialogue as the only means to build a homeland that accommodates all forces.
He pointed out to the ongoing protests, describing the economic demands of the demonstrators as “legitimate”.
However, he accused some protesters of destroying property and endangering the public order in clear violation of the legal controls.
He added that some parties sought to exploit the protests to achieve an “exclusionary agenda and fuel the poison of hatred” to drive the country into the unknown, saying the move has led to the “death of some of our beloved sons”.
Al-Bashir further said the response of the Sudanese people to the protests has pushed us to call for “a roadmap for political transition” that is based upon broad dialogue within the constitutional boundaries.
“We also dissolved the executive organ and formed a new government to carry out special tasks and declared the state of emergency” he added
He pointed out that further decisions and measures would be taken during the coming few days to enhance the dialogue and prepare the country for the desired transformation.
The African Union is brokering comprehensive peace talks to end the war and achieve democratic reforms. The two-track process comprises the Sudanese government and opposition forces including the armed groups in Darfur and the Two Areas.
Last month, the Sudanese opposition alliance Sudan Call has decided to withdraw from the African Union Roadmap for a comprehensive settlement in the east African country and its armed groups stopped any peace talks with Khartoum.
In October 2016, the political forces participating at the government-led national dialogue concluded the process by signing the national document which includes the general features of a future constitution to be finalized by transitional institutions.
The opposition groups boycotted the process because the government didn’t agree on a humanitarian truce agreement with the armed groups and due to its refusal to implement a number of confidence-building measures.
Last January, the opposition groups including the National Consensus Alliance, Sudan Call and the Unionist Gathering, as well as the Sudanese Professional Association, launched the Declaration of Freedom and Change which calls on al-Bashir to step down and the removal of his regime.