The Sudanese current transitional government held talks with rebel groups from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. The negotiations were held through the facilitation of South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir. SPLM-N’s chairperson, Abdelaziz al-Hilu, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan of the ruling sovereign council, and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok gathered to proceed with the peace process.
South Sudan’s President Kiir said, “I believe that war will never save us. You have seen we [the South Sudanese] fought for 21 years up to 2005, with all of that we did not get what we wanted in full.” Al-Hilu was also eager to continue the peace talks as he said, “We affirm our commitment to a peaceful settlement and to the negotiations and mechanisms to resolve the root causes of the conflict in Sudan.” This was echoed by al-Burhan as he “is determined to achieve peace for Sudan that complements what has [been] started in the previous agreements.”
SPLM-N holds power over a significant portion of Sudan’s geography around the Blue Nile and South Kordofan. They have engaged in many conflicts during the old regime’s rule under Omar al-Bashir. Under the current government and after the end of al-Bashir’s rule, there seems to be a new path that involves riding the peace wave between different parties in Sudan. Al-Hilu and his group demand a secular Sudan, one that embraces the diversity of their vast nation and does not preferentially stand with certain groups over others.
The separation of religion and state was called for by al-Hilu in multiple occurrences. He advocates that the country’s laws must be representative of the several sects and religions that exist in it. If peace talks do not yield a satisfactory outcome, the possibility of claiming a sovereign rule by the rebels over the areas they hold power in still exists.
There seems to be ambiguity in what is yet to happen to the democratic process in Sudan. The Sudanese people were successful in removing a dictatorship that ruled with an iron fist for 30 years, but they are now in the process of conceiving a new political system. The cultivation of a government that is representative and equitable to all people is an expectation and a demand by the nation. The resort to peace talks and the simple act of listening to different views is a leap in the process of creating a fair entity that rules the country on a democratic basis.