June 29, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The National Umma Party (NUP) in Sudan has considered throwing its weight behind the protests seeking to oust the government of President Bashir after reaching an agreement with fellow opposition parties on an alternative.
- Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party (REUTERS)
Addressing thousands of worshippers who flocked to Al-Ansar Mosque in Wad Nubawi area of Omdurman to attend Friday prayers ahead of planned anti-regime demonstrations, the NUP leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi said that his party fully supports the right of citizens to express rejection of the austerity measures that the government has recently announced.
Al-Mahdi was referring to the protest movement that has erupted since 16 June as the government moved to cut fuel subsidies as part of the austerity package which government officials say will help the country’s economy cope with the crisis of a budget deficit of $2.4 billion US, created by the loss of nearly three quarters of its oil revenues due to South Sudan’s secession.
As the protests widened over the following two weeks, the protester’s ceiling of demands has risen from reversal of austerity measures to overthrowing the regime of the National Congress Party (NCP) which they accuse of a long list of failures including corruption, warmongering and mismanagement of the economy.
Divergences among mainstream opposition parties allied under the National Consensus Forces (NCF), which includes the NUP and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) of Hassan Al-Turabi, prevented them this week from agreeing on the text of Democratic Alternative and the Constitutional Declaration aiming to administrate the country once the NCP regime is down.
In his Friday address, Al-Mahdi said that his party will mobilise its supporters to join the protesters once an agreement on the alternative is reached. He also warned security forces who were surrounding the mosque, not to meet the protesters with violence, saying that violence breeds violence and will lead Sudan to the same situation as Syria.
After Al-Mahdi exited the mosque, police and plainclothes security forces fired teargas inside the mosque and clashed using batons and rubber bullets with the protesters, some of whom sustained injuries as a result.
Prior to Friday’s protests, the NUP issued a statement on Thursday calling on its supporters to hold peaceful sit-ins at Mosques against the regime.
In a related context, Al-Mahdi hailed statements in which Egypt’s new President Mohammed Mursi, who represents the Muslim Brotherhood, said that he would not support Sudan’s Islamist government against its people.
President-elect Mursi told the Middle East News Agency last week that he was elected by a constituency that revolted against government oppression of their people. “My natural place is with the people and the Sudanese people are my priority".