Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said Thursday he was ready for a two-month ceasefire with rebels to allow national dialogue talks to take place to address the country’s myriad problems, offering insurgents an amnesty.
Bashir, who is wanted for alleged war crimes in Darfur, announced the talks in January 2014 to resolve conflicts in Sudan’s border regions and has been trying to persuade rebels to attend the talks in Khartoum.
“We announce our readiness for a comprehensive ceasefire for a period of two months until this dialogue has been completed in a healthy atmosphere,” Bashir said.
“We renew the full amnesty for those bearing weapons who wish to take part in the dialogue,” he said, but added that “anyone who bore arms and killed will not be released”.
The 71-year-old was addressing the general assembly for the national dialogue, announcing the talks would start on October 10.
“We call for a stop to the war and this position is not the result of weakness, and we are advocates of peace and the biggest obstacles to this is the rejection of other parties in the war to engage in free dialogue,” Bashir told members of the assembly.
Insurgents from Darfur and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) from the Blue Nile and South were due to meet the African Union chief mediator Thabo Mbeki in Addis Ababa on Friday to discuss the dialogue.
The rebels did not immediately comment but they, along with Sudan’s mainstream opposition, have previously said they will not take part in the dialogue as the atmosphere is not conducive for the talks.
Darfur erupted into conflict in 2003 when mostly black, African rebels mounted a campaign against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government, saying they had been marginalised economically and politically.
The SPLA-N rebelled Bashir in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states in 2011 for similar reasons.
Some 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur alone and nearly 2.5 million forced to flee their homes, the United Nations says.
The International Criminal Court has indicted Bashir for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and on genocide charges connected to the Darfur conflict.
Thousands more people have also been displaced in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
Photo Credits : AFP