August 26, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – A number of Sudanese opposition figures issued calls to leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi to carry their demands during his meeting with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir which is scheduled for Tuesday.
- Sadiq al-Mahdi
Kamal Omer, spokesman of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) opposition coalition, told Sudan Tribune today that the NUP is a member of the alliance which has produced the democratic alternative blueprint.
He stressed that the NUP must therefore be in synch with the opposition’s demands and advise Bashir to step down and convince the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to agree to a peaceful transition of power to an interim government.
The opposition figure expressed doubts that the NUP will get on board with the "ailing" government.
The NCP leading figure and investment minister Mustafa Osman Ismail was the first to disclose news of the planned meeting between Bashir and al-Mahdi at the latter’s residence in Omdurman to address national issues.
Despite speculations that al-Mahdi will discuss the possibility of joining the NCP-led government, the NUP communication officer Abdul-Jalil Basha said the meeting is dedicated to talks on the national agenda within the framework dialogue between opposition and government on national issues.
Al-Basha ruled out his party’s participation in the government noting that the NUP has adopted the ’Leave’ slogan and is currently collecting signatures from citizens to topple the regime.
"I don’t believe the NUP will participate in the next government because if it accepts that then it will lock the party in dark history and redeems a regime that is doomed to collapse" al-Basha said.
He also revealed that they gathered 2.5 million signatures from all states in Sudan.
Mohamed al-Hassan al-Amin, a key NCP lawmaker, concurred with al-Basha saying that the meeting is normal pointing that Bashir reaches out to opposition leaders from time to time for consultations on the future of the country.
"The media should not expect much out of this meeting," al-Amin said.
However, a well placed source at the NUP said the two leaders will tackle possibility of joining the cabinet and the "tough" conditions it presented to agree on that. These includes deep political reforms wide, ending armed conflicts, granting a large share of parliamentary seats and key cabinet posts to the NUP.
The source added that the NCP sees these demands as "impossible" but is open to negotiations.
Al-Mahdi’s daughter, Mariam denied in text messages broadcasted to her contacts rumors that she is readying to assume a ministerial role in the cabinet.
The scheduled meeting drew strong rebuke from a section of the opposition.
Hassan Ismail, a columnist in the privately-owned Khartoum newspaper wrote that, "the position of the NUP and the meeting of al-Mahdi with Bashir reminds me of a pencil which can be used to write on two sides; sometimes with the opposition and sometimes with the government."
The representative of the Baath party within the NCF Fathi Nuri al-Abbas said the NUP is flirting with the NCP to use as a card with the opposition and the government.
"We have launched the opposition’s 100-day plan, but the plan failed because of the NUP which launched similar scheme in a unique tune with the ruling power," he said,
The NUP leader has made sure to distance his party from last year’s demonstrations that broke out in response to the government’s rollout of austerity measures in response to growing economic pressures caused by the secession of the oil-rich South Sudan.
Last June, al-Mahdi said he does not approve of the 100-day plan to oust the regime announced by the NCF even though al-Basha said he took part in formulating the scheme.
Instead, he offered a different initiative to change the regime through collecting a million signatures and organizing sit-ins in public squares and other places.