The secretary-general of one of Sudan's leading opposition parties has launched an initiative aimed at ending the decade-long conflict in the western Darfur region including the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile areas, the official news agency SUNA has reported.
Ali Al-Haj Mohammed of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) told SUNA he would meet with leaders of the political parties and armed forces inside the country and abroad to seek a settlement to the conflicts that began in 2003 and were re-ignited in the other areas shortly after the secession of South Sudan.
Al-Haj began his first round of consultations at the home of the leader of the opposition's National Umma Party (NUP), Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, who welcomed the initiative which he said could only succeed in a climate of "transparency, credibility and freedom".
Al-Haj and Al-Mahdi are political allies and founding members of the National Consensus Forces coalition established in 2009 together with the Communist party and the outlawed SPLM-North, who are currently at war with the government in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain areas.
The PCP's political secretary, Amin Abdel Razak, told local news outlets that the initiative involved all political forces in the government and armed opposition groups:
We are open to everyone. We will not exclude anyone because all the political forces in Sudan have plans and visions to stop the war and achieve peace. We will draft a joint initiative with all parties.
The PCP, founded by the late veteran Islamic leader and politician Hassan Al-Turabi, split from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in 1999. Since then the party has supported the national dialogue process initiated by President Omar Al-Bashir in 2014 and is part of the National Reconciliation Government formed earlier this year.
At this stage, it is unclear what backing Al-Haj has received from the ruling National Congress Party for his initiative. The Sudan has banned communication and negotiations with armed groups wishing to overthrow its government through violent means. Previous attempts to reach a negotiated settlement have failed over differences involving humanitarian access and issues of trust between the warring sides.