Sudan's opposition group demands secular state during peace talks

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JUBA, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-Northern (SPLM-N) sector under Abdel Aziz Al-hilu on Thursday said it will demand dismantling of the existing Islamic sharia state from the ruling Sudan Sovereign Council during ongoing peace talks in Juba.

Hamar Amon Deldum, chief negotiator of the SPLM-N said the opposition favor Sudan returning to secularism as opposed to an Islamic sharia state which has been in existence since 1968 and was further tightened by the regime of former president Omar Al-Bashir.

"We want to shut the door of sharia law, we want secular state established in Sudan that is clearly stated in the constitution," Deldum told journalists in Juba.

SPLM-N is the largest rebel group based in the Nuba Mountain and South Kordofan regions.

The group had suspended talks with the government in October, following an attack on its position and later agreed to resume peace negotiations with the Sudan transitional government delegation headed by Mohamed Hamdan Daqlu, deputy head of the Sudan Sovereign Council.

"If we are able to achieve secularism in Sudan, then we will have no problem with self-determination," said Deldum.

The Sudan government has been negotiating with rebel groups under the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) that include the Sudan Liberation Movement under Minni Minnawi, SPLM-N and Sudan Liberation Movement-Transitional Council led by El Hadi Idris.

"We will discard self-determination as soon as we are guaranteed that there will be a secular state in Sudan," said Deldum.

He said that the sharia state experimented with for over 30 years by the former ruling National Congress Party (NCP) under Al-Bashir remains divisive in Sudan.

Tut Gatluak, head of South Sudan mediation team, said they hope the parties will continue to engage in dialogue.

"We discussed the remaining documents from the previous talks, SPLM-N have requested for secularism. We have discussed the secularism and a joint committee has been formed to look into the proposal," said Gatluak.

Mohamed El Taayshi, Sudan government lead negotiator said that Khartoum is open to talks with all the opposition groups. Enditem

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