Sudan’s National Dialogue

November 18, 2015
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm

About the Event

For over a decade, war and poverty have plagued Sudan. In January 2014, President Omar al-Bashir called for a national dialogue to bring together all parties of Sudan to discuss the way forward and achieve sustainable peace. On October 10, 2015, President Bashir launched the national dialogue, but the majority of opposition parties, rebel movements, and civil society organizations refused to participate, as the government had done little to create open space for debate or an enabling environment for dialogue.

The Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA), a NED grantee, in collaboration with civil society representatives, produced their own report on what an ideal national dialogue would look like. Traveling to six regions in Sudan, researchers for the project interviewed community leaders at the grassroots level to seek their input for a national dialogue. They asked: what elements should be included in a dialogue? What is the role for civil society in national dialogue? The final civil society report will be presented by SUDIA during the event.

Everyone in Sudan agrees that an open, genuine dialogue is the best way to heal past trauma, resolve ongoing conflicts, and build an inclusive and prosperous future Sudan. What they cannot agree upon is what that dialogue should look like, who should participate, and what sort of transitional government should follow. During this event, panelists will discuss ongoing dialogue efforts and explore how to foster inclusive, nationwide dialogue with representation from all ethnicities, regions, and religious backgrounds.  


  • Steven Feldstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL)
  • Ambassador Maowia Khalid, Chargé d’Affaires, Sudanese Embassy
  • Abdelrahman al-Mahdi, Director, Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA)
  • Niemat Ahmadi, Director, Darfur Women Action Group

Moderated by: 

  • Ambassador Princeton Lyman, Former Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan

Speaker Bios:

Steven Feldstein is responsible for DRL’s work in Africa, international labor affairs, and international religious freedom. He previously served as the Director of the Office of Policy in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning at the U.S. Agency for International Development. From 2007-2011, he served as Counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (under former Chairmen Joe Biden and John Kerry). He has also worked at the State Department for the Under Secretary for Economics and Business Affairs, as well as with the International Rescue Committee in Rwanda and Croatia. 

Ambassador Maowia Khalid is the Chargé d’Affaires at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Khalid has previously served as Ambassador/Chargé d’Affaires to Uganda and Chargé d’Affaires in Eritrea. From 2009-2011, he was a Spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Khartoum. His other diplomatic tours included Doha, Qatar from 1998-2002, and Washington, D.C. from 2004-2009. Ambassador Khalid graduated from the University of Omdurman.

Abdelrahman al-Mahdi is the founder and managing director of the Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA), a pioneering Sudanese NGO committed to advancing peace, development and social justice for the people of Sudan. Al-Mahdi also serves on the Board of the Confederation of Sudanese Civil Society Organizations, a coalition of independent civil society organizations working to safeguard its members and strengthen their capacities in realizing a democratic community with good governance in Sudan.

Niemat Ahmadi, a native of Darfur, is the founder and president of Darfur Women Action Group and the former director of global partnerships for United to End Genocide. She has worked with a variety of international NGOs on human rights advocacy. In 2008, she was recognized by President George W. Bush as one of the eight global human rights fighters for freedom of their people. She received her M.S. and B.A. degrees from Ahfad University for Women in Khartoum. 

Ambassador Princeton Lyman is a Senior Advisor to the President of the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). He served previously as the Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan from March 2011 to March 2013. Throughout his long career in government, Ambassador Lyman was also Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1981-1986), U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria (1986-1989), Director of Refugee Programs (1989-1992), U.S. Ambassador to South Africa (1992-1995), and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (1996-1998).