Home | News    Saturday 8 February 2014

NCP’s first meeting to promote reform initiative gets off to rocky start

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February 7, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has held a meeting on Thursday with its partners in the national unity government to discuss several issues, including the new constitution, general elections and the war in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir delivers a speech in the capital, Khartoum, on 27 January 2014 in which he appealed for a political and economic renaissance in the country (Photo: AFP/Ebrahim Hamid)

The NCP political partners stressed it should commit itself to any agreements being reached with the opposition political forces.

The representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ali Jaweesh, told reporters following the meeting that the ruling party’s initiative for holding national dialogue lacks seriousness, adding that views presented by the NCP in the meeting wouldn’t solve Sudan’s problems.

Jaweesh, besides the chairman of the New National Democratic Party (NNDP) and ex-presidential candidate, Munir Sheikh Al-Deen, abruptly left the meeting and criticised its agenda and proceedings, saying it will not solve Sudan’s problems.

Jaweesh, who was recently elected as a controller-general for the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan, said the NCP insists on discussing only four issues, although more than 10 issues could be discussed.

Last week, the Sudanese president and the chairman of the NCP, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, announced a four-point plan for reform "to stop the war and bring peace, free political society, fight against poverty and revitalise national identity", calling for political forces to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items though he did not specify practical steps to do so.

He said Sudan suffers from problems which have been accumulating since independence besides newly emerged ones and stressed the need to identify the major problems and strategic issues, pointing that such a meeting wouldn’t carry out this task.

Sheik Al-Deen, for his part, criticised the ways discussion was managed and said the four issues presented by the NCP were not new, wondering about the government seriousness to discuss those issues and commit itself to the results of the dialogue.

He described the way in which the government has dealt with political parties as “unfair”, saying it consulted with some parties before announcing its reform plan while ignoring others.

Sheikh Al-Deen further described the meeting as “unorganised”, saying the government needs to develop the necessary mechanisms to implement the reform plan.

The head of the National Alliance Party (NAP), Osman Abu Al-Majd, expressed dissatisfaction with the NCP, repeating the same accusations that it doesn’t deal with political parties on equal basis.

“The NCP respects opposition parties more than its partners in the government. They would respect us if we held arms”, he added

Several observers have described the meeting as “stuttering start” for the national dialogue casting doubts on its usefulness.

The meeting was attended by Sudan’s vice president and head of NCP’s political sector, Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman, besides the presidential assistant and NCP’s deputy chairman, Ibrahim Ghandour, and minister of investment and NCP’s political secretary, Mustafa Osman Ismail.

Ismail told reporters following the meeting that NCP would monitor cases of violations of freedoms in order to resolve them, disclosing that NCP detailed vision on national dialogue and reform will be revealed in the national forum.

The political parties have suggested formulation of a national mechanism comprised of independent national figures to oversee the national dialogue.

He pointed the meeting acknowledged the need to develop an implementation matrix for the NCP’s initiative leading to an all-party forum that doesn’t exclude any political force.

Ismail further mentioned the meeting discussed several suggestions for developing the mechanism which leads to the all-party forum, affirming the NCP would continue discussions with the rest of the political parties to agree on a timetable for implementing recommendations of the national dialogue.

“The NCP doesn’t seek to impose its vision on other political parties and we are open to discuss all issues”, he added

He said the recent speech delivered by president Bashir was meant to be a generalized address so that the NCP wouldn’t be accused by political forces of dictating agendas, timetable, and framework of the dialogue.

The long awaited speech by Bashir 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.

Opposition figures who were present made statements either personally or through their parties criticising the lack of specifics and excessive generalities that gave no real signs of concessions on the part of the ruling party.

The secretary general of the council of the national unity government’s parties, Aboud Jabir, said the meeting aimed to arrive at a common vision on implementing the NCP reform plan, pointing that views of the NCP partners would be accommodated in the reform document.

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 organize 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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