AU Envoy to Asharq Al-Awsat: Sudanese Have No Choice But to Negotiate

African Union Envoy to Sudan Mohamed El Hassan Labbat announced the formation of an international group to monitor the situation and to support the African Union-led mediation initiative for a peaceful solution in the country.

In addition to the AU, Labbat said the international group includes United Nations agencies, the European Union and UN Security Council member states, in addition to the West Troika – the United States, Britain and Norway – as well as Germany, France and Canada.

He noted that the group held a meeting on Thursday to discuss developments in Sudan and to learn about the latest African mediation, especially after the killing of more than 100 civilians in a security attempt to disperse a sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum.

“Recent developments are undoubtedly serious and unacceptable, and the African Union has condemned the use of violence in all its forms, and called for a careful investigation to determine those responsible for what happened,” Labbat told Asharq Al-Awsat.

On the other hand, the AU envoy emphasized that the disputing parties in Sudan have agreed to resolve the issues around the table of negotiations.

“The African Union considers that the parties welcomed the mediation and the efforts of the AU mission… This is very encouraging because such confidence helps facilitate the agreement and push the mediation forward,” Labbat said.

Asked about an initiative to be launched by the prime minister of Ethiopia, who is set to visit Khartoum on Friday, Labbat confirmed that it fell within the AU mission, noting that IGAD, the intergovernmental organization, which Ethiopia currently presides, was operating according to the African approach.

“We warmly welcome IGAD President, the Ethiopian prime minister, and I believe that he will strongly support our efforts,” he stated.

On the deteriorating trust in the Transitional Military Council, Labbat said: “There is no doubt that confidence between the parties is essential to reconciliation, negotiations and agreement, and this confidence has indeed been severely affected due to the recent developments.”

“We hope that it will be restored because … the supreme interest of Sudan lies in agreement and reconciliation,” he underlined.

The AU envoy went on to say that the Sudanese had no other choice but to return to negotiations.

“There is no other option. And all unilateral choices, whether made by the military council or the forces of freedom and change, will not lead to a positive solution, and will be very costly to the party that adopts them,” he affirmed.

Labbat noted that the suspension of Sudan’s membership in the AU would not hamper mediation efforts. He explained that once an agreement is reached and the civilian authority is reinstated, the matter would be reviewed.

“The decision to suspend [Sudan’s] membership is not an end in itself and does not mean that the African Union would not pursue its efforts in the continent or the region,” he said, adding: “This step is only aimed at encouraging the parties and pushing them for a swift solution to overcome this difficult stage.”

Source: aawsat