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Presidential address to nation amended at 11th hour: PCP

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January 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Several Sudanese political parties have complained about the speech delivered by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir on Monday, saying it ignored major issues including political freedoms, establishing a national council for peace, drafting new constitution through a national mechanism, and commitment to free and fair elections.

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Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi of the Popular Congress Party (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

The long awaited speech by the Bashir on Monday night that was expected to unveil a major reform proposal, created a wave of disappointment among those who followed it including opposition leaders who were present.

Over the last week, officials in the government and Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) upped the ante on Bashir’s speech suggesting it will carry an initiative of significant magnitude with far reaching ramifications for the country’s political and economic future.

A leading figure at the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) claimed in statements to Sudan Tribune that an influential group within the NCP amended Bashir’s speech at the last minute leading to a widespread frustration among political forces and the Sudanese people.

The PCP political secretary, Kamal Omer Abdel-Salam, described Bashir’s address as “disappointing”, saying it didn’t tackle Sudan’s political crisis.

He said the PCP accepted the invitation to attend Bashir’s address because there was enough evidence he would announce a full transitional status, pointing they were surprised by a distorted speech that would not help advance dialogue between political forces and the NCP.

Omer asserted that their firm stance is to topple the regime and establish a full transitional status, pointing the NCP “hit a nail in the coffin” of its future dialogue with the political forces.

Meanwhile, the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) said in a statement on Tuesday that dangers faced by the country require radical measures to establish a new regime for all Sudanese people instead of the current one-party regime.

The statement pointed to the need for a self-criticism to the 2010 elections’ flaws and the use of excessive force against demonstrators in the recent protests.

It further mentioned the president’s speech reflected commitment to three broad issues including dialogue with all political and civil forces, allowing freedoms without cancelling restrictive laws, and inviting armed rebel groups to engage in an unconditional dialogue provided that they renounce violence.

The NUP statement stressed that both Egyptian and Sudanese experiences failed because they adopted an exclusionary approach which led to sharp divisions within the society while the Tunisian experience managed to achieve national consensus because it avoided exclusion.

It also said the NUP would develop a working paper detailing Bashir’s initiative and accommodating views of other political and armed forces, pointing if the NCP accepted the proposal, it would represent a roadmap for the comprehensive and just peace and the full democratic transformation.

The NUP affirmed that the second option would be to mobilize Sudanese people to achieve objectives of the working paper by all means except violence if the regime refused to respond to its demands.

The Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), for its part, stressed that social and political balance of power within society wouldn’t be changed as long as the regime sticks to power through oppression, fraudulent elections, and building social and political alliances.

It said in a press statement on Tuesday that economic crisis persisted, mentioning the deterioration in the value of the Sudanese pound, large budget deficits, and the UN reports in 2013 which pointed that 90% of the Sudanese people are living under the poverty line and 3 million others are on the verge of famine.

The SCP accused the ruling party of continuing to protect itself through creating political tensions and adopting military policies besides violating the tiny margin of freedoms and introducing reform program to expand its political and social base.

It called for holding an all-party national conference through a preparatory committee headed by independent national figures in order to arrive at a national transitional government.

According to the SCP, the interim government would carry out a specific program which includes measures for stopping civil wars, dismantling the totalitarian regime, achieving the democratic transformation through ensuring political, trade unions, and press freedoms besides cancelling trials of detainees of the recent protests.

Sudan’s opposition parties call for forming a transitional government and holding a national conference with the participation of rebel groups to discuss a peaceful solution for the conflicts in Darfur region, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states.

The interim government would organise general elections once a political agreement on constitutional matters is reached, inaugurating a new democratic regime. But the NCP rejects this proposal saying opposition parties must simply prepare for the 2015 elections and that rebels should sign first peace accords.

(ST)

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