Dr. Elshafie Khidir Saeid
Regardless of any divergent perceptions, conflicting opinions, or emotional feelings, the historical responsibility dictates the Sudanese elites to engage seriously in explaining, clarifying, and spreading the wisdom behind the national dialogue process as the best and optimum strategic option to address the chronic Sudanese crisis. In this regard, it would be a grave mistake if we ignore, obstruct or underestimate the tripartite initiative of Unitams, the African Union, and IGAD.
I do believe that there is a great possibility of turning this initiative into a platform that brings together the mosaic of Sudanese politics intending to conduct a deep and serious national dialogue that could answer the key question of how to govern Sudan within the framework of the principles of freedom, peace, and justice of December 2018 revolution. In a series of articles, I will examine the national dialogue processes in Sudan starting with a preliminary/historical note, since achieving the above-mentioned goal requires a thorough study of the history of this process in Sudan.
The tripartite initiative is not the first attempt to deal with the Sudanese crises through this national dialogue mechanism and this history goes back to before the independence of Sudan. The first attempt was the Juba Conference, in 1947, in which the Sudanese political leaders, from the north and south of the country, met to discuss how to govern Sudan. Although the interlocutors concluded that Sudan should remain a united country based on the voluntary will of all its national formations provided that the rights of the people of South Sudan are guaranteed, the conference did not achieve the desired results and did not answer the main question.
After the October 1964 revolution, the Sudanese political forces held, from 16 to 29 March 1965, a round table dialogue conference on the crisis in the country and its main issue of the relationship between the north and the south. But the conference did not reach conclusive results, and it formed a committee of twelve members, divided equally between the politicians of the north and the south, to prepare draft proposals for constitutional and administrative reform to be presented at a second round table conference, but this second conference was never held and was forgotten.
In the wake of the April 1985 uprising, the Sudanese political and trade union forces held a national dialogue conference in Kokadam resort in Ethiopia, which issued the “Kokadam Declaration” on March 24, 1986, calling on the governing Transitional Military Council, which was formed after the uprising, to form a new national unity government that could prepare for a national constitutional conference in which everyone participates to draw the future of Sudan. But, the Transitional Military Council ignored that call and organized the parliamentary elections held in April 1986, which exacerbated the partisan conflicts and competition over seats of power before reaching a consensus on an agreed-upon answer to the question of how Sudan is governed.
Although all the political forces, except the National Islamic Front Party, agreed to hold a national dialogue conference under the name of the Constitutional National Conference, and the date of its convening was set on September 18, 1989, provided that preparations for it would begin with the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee on 4 July 1989, but the National Islamic aborted this genuine attempt when it took power through the military coup of June 30, 1989, and confiscated the democratic political life to pave the way for imposing, with iron and fire, its rule and its ideology on the country. (To be continued)