July 9, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The First Vice-President of Sudan, Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, said on Monday that the government intends to approach opposition parties for dialogue on alternation of power, just days after they agreed to work for regime change.
- FILE PHOTO - Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (L) congratulates Sudan’s newly appointed First Vice President Ali Osman Taha after his oath-taking ceremony in Khartoum September 14, 2011 (REUTERS
In a televised interview broadcast by a number pro-government channels, Taha said that the dialogue would also include a new constitution to replace the current one. He stressed that all contentious issues regarding the constitution would be open for wide discussions.
On Wednesday last week, mainstream opposition parties allied under the National Consensus Forces (NCF) signed the Democratic Alternative Charter (DCA) which called for regime change “through peaceful means.”
The NCF, which includes the National Umma Party (NUP) of former Prime Minister Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Al-Turabi among others, also agreed on a three years transitional period governed by a caretaker cabinet and a presidential college with rotating chairmanship to rule the country when the National Congress Party’s (NCP) regime is overthrown.
Taha, however, failed to mention whether the same offer of dialogue will extend to the rebel coalition Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF) whose factions including three groups from the western region of Darfur plus the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), in the south of the country, who are fighting to topple the regime.
The opposition move comes amid small but growing street protests sparked by the government’s decision to lift fuel subsidies as part of what officials say is an austerity program needed to make up for a budget deficit of $2.4 billion.
Taha avoided commenting on the protests that have been gripping the capital Khartoum and other towns for the past three weeks.
However, he sought to calm public concerns over the economic crisis, saying that the government had adopted a comprehensive set of measures including intensification of production and reduction of government expenditure.
Sudan’s economy has been contracting since the country lost three quarters of its oil production to South Sudan which split to form an independent state last year. Inflation rose to over 30 percent in May, mainly on food prices, while the price of the local currency reached a low-record of 6 pounds against the dollar.
Taha said that the government had issued directives to control the process of money creation as well as to establish institutions of accountability to ensure maximum efficiency and reduction of waste.
In Taha’s words, the austerity program aims to bridge the gap in the budget and take the economy to broader horizons.
He expressed confidence that citizens understand the necessity of the recent economic measures.
In a related context, Sudan’s second vice-president, Alhaj Adam Youssef, accused foreign quarters he did not name of standing behind the protests.
Addressing an occasion marking “the week of national media” in the capital Khartoum on Monday, Youssef said that government statistics on the protests indicated that 85 percent of those participating were motivated by “foreign sides waging a proxy war”
Sudanese government officials say foreign media is exaggerating the scale of the protests to which security authorities responded with teargas and rubber bullets.
Activist groups say the government arrested more than 2,000 people since the protests started on 16 June.