July 4, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Leaders of Sudan’s mainstream opposition parties managed on Wednesday to sign the Democratic Alternative Charter (DAC) which unequivocally adopts the goal of regime change through “peaceful means” while outlining the basis of how the country should be governed afterward.
- Supporters from Sudan’s main opposition parties sign documents requesting for democratic alternatives to the one-party rule at the Democratic Unionist Party headquarters in Omdurman, 4 July 2012 (REUTERS)
Representatives of party members of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), an opposition coalition including the National Umma Party (NUP) of Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, the Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Al-Turabi, and the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) among others, signed the DAC in a big celebration at the headquarters of the National Unionist Party in Omdurman amid heavy presence of government security forces.
Opposition officials lauded the DCA as a significant step forward in the confrontation with the government of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) which for the past three weeks has been facing growing street protests following its decision to end fuel subsidies as part of wider austerity measures to make up for what officials described as a budget deficit of 2.4 billion US dollars created mainly by the loss of 75 percent of the country’s oil production due to South Sudan’s secession.
The text of the DCA adopts the use of “peaceful mass struggle” in the forms of civil disobedience and popular uprising to topple the regime and then establish an interim government in which all political forces will be represented to rule the country for three years until a new constitution is installed and elections are held.
It then proceeds to describe the principles that should guide the process of writing the constitution, including that Sudan is “a civil democratic state” predicated on equal citizenship rights.
The DCA further calls for “the abolition of all freedom-restricting laws”, “respect for the reality of diversity in Sudan” and “safeguards against the use of religion in politics”
It also calls for responding to the demands of people in the Western region of Darfur through various means including “compensations” and “accountability for the war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed during the conflict in the region.
NCF chairman Farouq Abu Issa told reporters that the DCA marks a quality shift in the Sudanese political arena. He went on to added that all political forces agreed that “the national project is now represented in toppling the regime and obliterating the hallmarks of the NCP from all levers of power in the Sudanese State”
Abu Issa warned the NCP against inflicting any psychological or physical harm on the thousands of people detained by security forces during the current wave of protests, saying that this will transform the conflict along ethnic lines.
NUP’s leading member, Maryam Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, told the London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat that the DCA represents a historical landmark in the political life in Sudan.
“As far as we are concerned, this regime has become unfit to rule the country. It’s a threat to the country and we will strive to change it through all means” she said.
Maryam added that the DCA will be explained to the regional and international community.
Mubarak Al-Fadil, head of the Umma Party Reform and Renewal, said in an emailed statement to Sudan Tribune that the DCA is “a triumph for the forces of democracy that are seeking change in Sudan”
Al-Fadil stated that the Sudanese youth who took to the streets “ignited the revolution” have compelled leaders of Sudanese opposition parties “to bury their differences and sign the charter for change.”
Last week, divergences of opinion within NCF factions prevented them from signing the DCA and the Constitutional Declaration (CD) which provides for the establishment of a collegial head of state, Council of Sovereignty, a government and a legislative council that will lead the country during an interim period of three years.
Sources told Sudan Tribune that NCF factions failed on Wednesday to sign the Constitutional Declaration due to new disagreements between its members.
However, an NCF official told Sudan Tribune that there are no disagreements on the Constitutional Declaration but the signing was delayed because some parties requested time to conduct internal consultations.
UPRR leader mentioned that the rebel Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF), which is fighting the government in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, was “part and parcel” of the consultations on the DCA.
Al-Fadil said that the rebels’ coalition promised to support and sign the DCA in a meeting “to be held soon” with NCF representatives