Sudan's SPLM-N El Hilu and Nuba Mountains Forces sign agreement on secularism and self-determination
March 25 - 2021 JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN
SPLM-N leader Abdelaziz El Hilu in Juba last year (social media)
The Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-North, headed Abdelaziz by El Hilu, and the Alliance of Civilian Nuba Mountains Forces agreed to adopt the principle of secularism at a joint meeting in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
The principle of secularism, which is based on the separation of religion from the state, is one of the most important advocacy points of the SPLM-N El Hilu, together with self-determination for South Kordofan and the Blue Nile state.  
According to a joint statement issued on Tuesday after the signing of the protocol, the two parties also agreed to uphold the principle of the right to self-determination for all Sudanese peoples.
The statement emphasised the importance of restructuring the Sudanese military and security forces so that they reflect the regional, ethnic, cultural, religious, and gender diversity that is present in Sudan.
The agreement also stipulated a thorough review of all laws and customs related to the ownership, use, and possession of land and the empowerment of women.
The two parties agreed to work hard to implement the joint protocol and to organise specialised and popular platforms to involve ‘all the masses of our people’ and to promote peace and democratic transition.
Women's support
Earlier this month, a coalition of women’s organisations announced their support for the negotiating position of the SPLM-N El Hilu after a delegation of the women's organisations organised a 16-day visit to the areas controlled by the SPLM-N El Hilu.
They confirmed that the SPLM-N’s stance enjoys widespread popular support in these areas and expressed their support for the SPLM-N’s stance on secularism and the necessity of religious freedom.
The women organisations also expressed their support for the SPLM-N presence in the Nuba Mountains and for people of the Nuba Mountains' right to self-determination, to realise justice and human dignity and to fight exclusion and discrimination.
El Hilu withdrew from the Juba peace talks in protest of the chairmanship of the government delegation by Deputy Chairman of the Sovereign Council Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia. The rebels accuse the RSF forces of committing “heinous crimes” against civilians in various parts of Sudan.
The SPLM-N El Hilu has signed agreements with activist groups and is cooperating with them to reach their goals. He has also expressed his willingness to negotiate with the Sudanese government.
In November, El Hilu reaffirmed his eagerness “to reach a peaceful, just, and comprehensive political settlement of the Sudanese problem that would put an end to the civil wars in Sudan”.
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