Khartoum — Several key stakeholders boycotted the eastern Sudan peace conference in Khartoum yesterday. They judge that too many supporters of the defunct Al Bashir regime are present.
The consultative conference, that is held in Khartoum's Friendship Hall, aims to reach unified visions on eastern Sudan issues, that are to be discussed during the peace talks in the South Sudanese capital Juba.
The conference was postponed last week in order to allow a better preparation of the discussions.
The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coordination committees in Red Sea and El Gedaref announced earlier that they would not attend the conference. Representatives of the FFC in Kassala withdrew from the conference, in protest against "the heavy presence of members of the defunct [Al Bashir] regime in the conference hall".
According to Hamrour Hussein, leading member of the FFC in Kassala, the acting governors of the three eastern Sudanese states monopolised the selection of participants to the conference. "Most of the participants are native administration leaders and academics affiliated with the former regime."
FFC leaders in El Gedaref boycotted the conference for the same reason. FFC member Ramzi Yahya said that they recently stopped "all forms of dealing with the acting military governor" because "he is still implementing the agenda of the former regime".
He explained that they support the peace negotiations in Juba but "the consultative conference in its current state cannot lead to real peace".
Five tribal leaders from eastern Sudan said in a statement yesterday that they will not participate in the conference, because they consider the selection of the participants "not successful".
The Red Sea University also announced its withdrawal from the conference and the return of its delegates to Port Sudan, because of "the absence of the real stakeholders".
Spokesman for the FFC in Red Sea state El Mahi Hashim told Radio Dabanga that they boycott the conference because "in this way it is not worth addressing the issues of eastern Sudan".
The heads of the El Hadendawa, El Amarar, Al El Habab, El Shukriya, and El Rashaida tribes commented in a statement that "the direction the eastern Sudan peace negotiations is taking, will not lead to peace".
They called on the Beja Congress leaders to participate in the consultations, accelerate tribal reconciliation and adopt the vision about the conference presented by the leaders of the native administration in eastern Sudan.
The governor of Kassala, Maj Gen Mahmoud Babikir, said in his opening speech at the conference that he hopes the eastern Sudan track will serve as a model for the other negotiation tracks.
He called on the participants to reach visions and ideas that push the negotiation process forward.
He further urged the various communities in eastern Sudan "to tolerate each other and to meet the minimum standards of peaceful coexistence".
The eastern Sudanese youth should "expand their perceptions", and "think about the benefit of their community when they are posting their views on social media".
Red Sea state
The governor of Red Sea state, Maj Gen Hafiz El Taj Mekki, also commented on the boycott of the conference in his speech. "If we want sustainable peace, we must not impose ceilings that lead to limited agreements," he warned. "The people of the eastern states should be given the opportunity to reflect among themselves, reconcile, and have a frank and clear discussion in order to reach stability."
He requested the organisers to take the boycott into consideration.
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