Opposition groups call for widening peace process

A meeting of Sudanese opposition groups, which ended this week in the Eritrean capital Asmara, has endorsed Sudan's ongoing peace process, but warned that lasting peace could not be achieved without a broad-based national consensus.

In a communiqué, the umbrella opposition group National Democratic Alliance (NDA) - which includes the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) - stated that the meeting culminated with "sound visions" for realising the aspirations of the Sudanese people.

It said although NDA leaders were in support of the peace talks, the "bilateral parameters" currently pursued by negotiators left out many political forces in the country. This risked throwing the conflict into "unrealistic dimensions" by presenting it only as a problem between north and south Sudan.

"The NDA affirmed their willingness to conduct face-to-face negotiations with the government," the statement said. "The meeting exalted the stubbornness of the Sudanese people in rejecting all forms of absolutism."

The ongoing Sudanese peace process involves the Khartoum government and SPLM/A, under the facilitation of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and other international mediators.

SPLM/A leader John Garang, who attended the NDA meeting, said the IGAD peace talks had reached at a stalemate, but urged other opposition groups to "capitalise on the positive achievements" of the talks to seek their incorporation into the peace process.