See also:
» 06.05.2011 - Eritrean opposition pleads intl intervention
» 02.03.2011 - Calm Eritrea avoids talks of rebellion
» 21.09.2010 - Eritrea "heading towards failed state"
» 11.12.2009 - 30 Christian women arrested in Eritrea
» 21.10.2009 - Eritrea is the bottom last in Press Freedom Index 2009
» 27.05.2009 - Eritrea rejects release of Swedish journalist
» 16.04.2009 - Eritrea’s human rights violations deepen the rights crisis, HRW
» 21.07.2008 - Eritrea President wants "media war"

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Eritrea | Sudan

Eritrea hosts Sudan opposition meeting

afrol News, 7 February - The ruling party of Eritrea today hosted a major meeting of Sudan's major exiled opposition party, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The meeting underlines the hostility between the governments of Asmara and Khartoum as they keep blaming each other of coup conspiracies.

The Sudanese National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is the major opposition platform in the country, uniting South Sudan's secessionist SPLM/A, exiled northern opposition groups and several armed groups within northern Sudan, including rebels operating close to the Eritrean border. Khartoum accuses the government of Eritrea of aiding the latter rebel group and has closed the common border of the two countries.

The NDA meeting held today in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, was attended by members of the executive office of the only legal party in Eritrea, the PFDJ. Most leader of the NDA platform - including its chairman, Maulana Mohamed Osman Al-Mirghani - united in Asmara's HAGER media hall, according to reports from the Eritrean government.

Mr Al-Mirghani at the meeting in particular addressed the situation in Sudan after the signing of the north-south peace earlier this year, which will give the NDA member SPLM/A ample powers in an autonomous South Sudan. He emphasised that any party within the NDA has the right to conduct dialogue with Khartoum on issues of its own interest, provided that this was carried out under the umbrella of the alliance.

In his final statement, Mr Al-Mirghani disclosed that the NDA was to hold its third convention in Asmara following the signing of the Sudanese peace agreements that are planed to be settled in Cairo, where the alliance is headquartered. The NDA chair emphasised on the good relations between the Sudanese opposition and the Eritrean regime.

As for the relations between Eritrea and the Sudan, Mr Al-Mirghani had reaffirmed that his country and Eritrea "share profound historical relations" and added that his party "would not accept in principle any kind of conspiracy meetings directed against Eritrea," according to quotations published by the Eritrean government. Asmara accused Khartoum of conspiring to organise a coup in Eritrea.

Also speaking at the meeting was Alamin Mohamed Saeed, Secretary of Eritrea's ruling PFDJ party. Mr Alamin praised the NDA for its "struggle", saying that the current peace agreements had only been possible due to this "pressure".

Both the NDA and the PFDJ representatives went on condemning the Sudanese government for human rights violations, in particular the recent attacks on civilians in Port Sudan. However, both the Eritrean regime and the armed groups united in the NDA are internationally accused of systematic human rights violation of comparative graveness.

Eritrea, which is isolated by all its neighbours, is seeking to establish alliances with dissident groups and rebels in Sudan and Ethiopia. According to Khartoum, the Eritrean government has financed and armed a group of an estimated 3,000 armed rebels operating at the two countries' border, south of Port Sudan. Sudanese government officials claim that these rebels have launched attacks from Eritrean territory.

While relations between Asmara and Khartoum remain hostile, the Sudanese government is slowly reaching new agreements with the groups forming the NDA. With the main armed group, the south's SPLA, a peace agreement has already been signed. Also the NDA leadership this year has started reaching agreements with Khartoum.

In January, NDA Vice President Adel Rahman Saeed announced that a joint commission was now looking at how the NDA could be reintegrated into Sudan's political life. Khartoum had envisioned the establishment of the NDA as a legal opposition party in Sudan, as opposed to the prohibited Islamist opposition parties operating in the country.

As part of the NDA's agreement with Khartoum, the armed rebels operating at the Eritrean border were to be reintegrated into the regular army of Sudan. No timetable has so far been agreed upon, but planned negotiations between the NDA and the Sudanese government are to detail the conditions of the framework already agreed upon.

The NDA has indicated that its leader, Mr Al-Mirghani, could soon be returning to Khartoum to reorganise the party there if negotiations with the government continue to be successful. Mr Al-Mirghani has been exiled in Egypt for many years.

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