From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Nov 04 2008 - 16:27:06 EST
Sudanese President to Asharq Al-Awsat: There Will be No Return to War
By Turki Al-Saheil
Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat - Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has ruled out the option of returning to war saying that the initiatives and conventions regarding the peace process in Darfur are "proceeding well."
In an exclusive statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, on the evening of his departure from Saudi Arabia following a two-day visit, al Bashir played down reports of processes of armament in Southern Sudan in preparation for a possible war.
Al Bashir said, "The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (also known as the Naivasha Agreement), which ended the South Sudan conflict, and the Darfur Peace Agreement (signed in Abujah, Nigeria) invited the 'people of Sudan' to solve the problems in Darfur. On the domestic level, it is proceeding well and we do not fear the return of war as that is now in the past."
Concerning the peace initiative in Darfur, which has faced a number of obstacles, the Sudanese president said, "The first stages are always difficult," but added, "Thanks to God and to the awareness of our leaders and our people at a grassroots level, they have agreed that there will be no return to war, and the only path is one of dialogue and the culture of peace."
President Omar al Bashir affirmed that his country is committed to holding the elections and the announcing the results as scheduled.
In response to a question about the possibility of his deputy Salva Kiir Myardit, now backed by the opposition party, winning the forthcoming elections, he said, "We are committed to holding the elections as scheduled, and this is essential, just as are we committed to the results regardless of their nature, and this is a conviction that is a political and moral commitment. We welcome all free, fair and transparent competition."
With regards to the development of the Darfur region, al Bashir criticized a group of donors saying it failed to fulfil its obligations satisfactorily. "[With regards to] what the donors promised [in order] to support the peace process in our country; the donors did not fulfil their promises even before the global financial crisis hit," said al Bashir. He added that his country would have to rely on its own potential; "Therefore we rely on God, and on our own potential, as well as the support of our neighbouring countries and allies, whether they are Arab, Islamic, or African." It is unlikely, therefore, that international donors would fulfil this obligation with regards to the development of the region following the recent economic crisis.
In this regard, al Bashir also emphasized the need for initiative when the Islamic Conference is held in Saudi Arabia in February 2009 in the hope that it will play, "an effective role in the reconstruction of Darfur, the provision of services and the establishment of a foundation for development, God willing." The Organization of the Islamic Conference revealed recently its intention to hold a conference in Saudi Arabia regarding the development and reconstruction of Darfur.
Sudanese President Omar al Bashir held an in-depth meeting with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz recently. He returned to Sudan from Medina, Saudi Arabia, following a two-day visit during which he performed the Umrah pilgrimage and visited the Prophet's Mosque. Al Bashir stated that the topic of bilateral relations between Sudan and Saudi Arabia was the most important issue that was discussed with King Abdullah.
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