Sudan’s ongoing National Dialogue is the first initiative of its kind throughout the modern history of Sudan. Unlike the National Reconciliation of 1977, this National Dialogue-initiated by the President of the Republic, Field Marshal, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir- aims to map Sudan’s future by bringing together all Sudanese regardless of their political and ideological differences to frankly and thoroughly discuss all key issues and problems of Sudan including identity, economy, system of governance, and freedoms.
Since the declaration of the initiative on January 2014, the government has spared no effort to create a conducive environment for a genuine dialogue that takes everyone on board. To do so, the Presidenthas issued Presidential Decrees which provided for a public amnesty to all political detainees, a unilateral secession of fire for two months, as well as fully allowing the freedom of expression and political activities except those targeting the stability of the country. He has also pledged to provide all needed guarantees for the rebels and armed groups, had they decided to join the National Dialogue.
Prior to considering the opportunities and challenges of the National Dialogue, it will be good to shed some light on the composition of the National Dialogue mechanisms. To ensure the objectiveness and neutrality of the dialogue process, five national accepted figures have been chosen to be the facilitators of the National Dialogue Conference. The five figures are Former President Abdulrahman Swar Al-Dahab, Professor Yusuf Fadul, Mr. Ibrahim drej, Dr. Kamal Shaddad, and Mr. Ibrahim Monem Mansour. All of them are working hand in hand with the six committees of the conference which are chaired by some other prominent and accepted national figures , namely, Mohamed Al-Amin Khaleefa for the Peace Committee, Al-Tijani Al-Tayeb, for the Economy Committee, Omar Abdulaty for the Freedom and Basic Rights Committee, Prof. Ali Othman Mohammed Salih for the Identity Committee, Dr. Kamil Idrees, for the Foreign Relations Committee, Barakat Musa Al-Hawaty for the Issues of Governance and the outcomes of the National Dialogue. Beside the representatives of the participating political parties, the membership of the Natioanl Dialogue Conference includes fifty more national figures, most of whom are with no political affiliation. Looking at the composition of the committees and the issues to be considered, one will easily come to the conclusion that this National Dialogue process is genuine and thematically comprehensive.
All committees started their technical deliberations right away after the inauguration of the National Dialogue Conference on October the 10th. However, some of the opposition parties and armed movements have not yet decided to join the Sudanese cortege of National Dialogue. As long as the dialogue is run by this spectrum of Sudanese national figures, experts, and politicians, there will be no excuse for those who say no to dialogue especially when we take into consideration the guarantees provided by the president. All armed groups – according to the president- are welcome to join and leave had they have any reservations about the National Dialogue process. The back door to the forest is still open for them to go back.
Some are still reluctant to support the National Dialogue with the pretext that Sudan National Front and some other parties are out of the game. Actually, it is they who refused to come (Despite all the guarantees), yet it will never be late for them to join this historic event. It is out of question that the National Dialogue is the only solution for Sudan’s problems, as the fact that war will never lead to a sustainable peace, nor will it end in a win-win situation. The only way to do this is dialogue. If not, then what?