Sudan: PM Hamdok Makes 'Historic Visit' to Rebel-Held Zone

Kauda — Sudan's Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok today visited Kauda, stronghold of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North faction led by Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu). The visit is historic as it has been a no-go area for Sudanese government officials since the war broke out in South Kordofan in 2011, making this the first official visit in eight years.

The government spokesman, Minister of Culture and Information, Faisal Mohammed Salih appreciated the warm welcome Hamdok and his delegation received, pointing out that masses of public from all the areas surrounding Kauda were singing for peace and the revolution, expressing their warm feelings towards the visit.

He described the speech of the Prime Minister as direct and affirmed the government's seriousness to make peace.

The minister underlined that the speech of Abdelaziz El Hilu affirmed the real desire for peace, where he called on the government to shoulder its responsibility and face the challenges.

"El Hilu and the accompanied delegation inspected a number of services utilities including schools, relief and health centres."

He said the Prime Minister and El Hilu held a closed-door meeting.

Hamdok, called on the leaders and people of the SPLM-N to respond to the peace call.

Addressing a mass rally in Kauda, on Thursday, Hamdok called on all members of the armed resistance movement to join the peace process "so that all the people of Sudan get engaged in the building of the new Sudan: Peace is coming soon".

The Prime Minister invited Abdelaziz El Hilu, to visit Khartoum.

Hamdok, stressed that realisation of peace is the top priority of his government in the transitional period, affirming that the December Revolution erupted to put an end to the people's suffering.

Mass rally

Addressing the rally, Hamdok said that the main pillars of peace depend on addressing the root causes of the crisis, which is based on citizenship, multi cultures, respect for the other, and broad participation in the peace-making, especially among women and youth.

He pointed out that the vision of the transitional government for peace is based on five main pillars, which are the axis of economic and social development that addresses issues of marginalization and unbalanced development through the construction of hospitals, schools, roads, and other infrastructures,

'Hamdok visited the Nuba Mountains, and he allowed humanitarian organisations to support us. This is the complete opposite of the previous regime, which called us 'slaves', killed innocent people, and blocked the distribution of aid' - Najwa Mousa, Nuba human rights and women's activist.

He said that the second axis is represented in the establishment of balanced external relations, the combat of corruption and restoration of the looted money, while the third axis deals with the administration, the just participation in government, the form of rule and its organs, the relation between religion and the state and the issue of security arrangements and the building of a national army.

Hamdok indicated that the fourth axis deals with solving the humanitarian issues, adding that the fifth axis relates to revision of a number of laws and legislations and addressing the issues of compensations and the transitional justice.

'Historical step'

Nuba human rights and women activist Najwa Mousa considered Hamdok's visit to the rebel-held areas a historical step and a great push to the peace process between the SPLM-N El Hilu and Khartoum. "It gave the people's hearts great hope for a real peace in the Two Areas [Blue Nile and South Kordofan]."

Mousa told Radio Dabanga that the people of the Nuba Mountains already welcomed Hamdok since he assumed the position of prime minister, and not because of his visit to Kauda.

"Hamdok visited the Nuba Mountains, and he allowed humanitarian organisations to support us. This is the complete opposite of the previous regime, which called us 'slaves', killed innocent people, and blocked the distribution of aid," she said.

The activist said she expect the visit will lead to a breakthrough in the peace talks between the SPLM-N El Hilu and the government because of the good will of both parties. She appealed to the negotiating parties "to reach a just peace that will end the suffering of the Sudanese in general and the people of the Two Areas and Darfur in particular".

British support

On his Twitter feed, The British Ambassador Irfan Siddiq who joined the PM in Kauda said the visit "signals rebuilding of trust, improvement in humanitarian assistance, and good prospects for a peace deal. [The]UK accompanied [the visit] to show solidarity and support which will continue.

Sudan Troika

In a statement this evening, the UK, US, and Norway, together the Sudan Troika, commend PM Hamdok and El Hilu for their historic meeting in Kauda.

"This is the first time since 2011 that the Sudanese government was able to travel peacefully from Khartoum directly to territory held by the country's largest armed opposition group," the Troika statement says.

"We see this as a major confidence-building step in the peace process, one that we hope will pave the way for safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all areas and lead to the swift and successful conclusion of peace negotiations by the 14 February deadline agreed by all parties."

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