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Sudan’s opposition NUP renews calls for national peace council

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February 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, has renewed call for establishing a national council for peace to administer dialogue with the rebel groups.

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From left to right: Leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan Al-Turabi, Reform Now Party (RNP) head Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani, National Umma Party (NUP) Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi and second vice-president Hassabo Abdel-Rahman attend a speech by the president announcing a national dialogue initiative on 27 January 2014 (SUNA)

While the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan al-Turabi expressed readiness to convince rebel groups to engage in the comprehensive national dialogue.

Al-Mahdi told reporters following his meeting with the joint special envoy to Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, on Thursday that success of the national dialogue is contingent upon comprehensive discussion of all national issues, pointing to the importance of recognising the armed rebel groups and engaging them in the national dialogue in order to achieve the desired outcome.

Chambas for his part shared Al-Mahdi’s vision with the regard to the participation of the rebel groups in the national dialogue, saying there is a good opportunity for achieving peace particularly with all political components agreeing to take part in the national dialogue.

Late last January, president 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 revitalize national identity". He further called for political forces to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items though he did not specify practical steps to do so.

Meanwhile, the PCP secretary general, Kamal Omer Abdel-Salam, said his party agreed to engage in an unconditional dialogue with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in order to reach national accommodation which enhances opportunities for ending civil wars and achieving peace.

Abdel-Salam, who spoke in a seminar organised by the pro-government Sudan Media Center (SMC) and attended by several political leaders on Wednesday, renewed his party’s demands for forming a transitional government and delaying the 2015 elections in order to allow all political forces take part in drafting the new constitution and freely participate in the elections.

The PCP official further dismissed existence of a hidden relationship between his party and the NCP, denying they were subjected to pressures from the United States and Qatar in order to accept dialogue with the ruling party.

"We entered the dialogue holding a white card and we are ready to convince the political forces even the armed groups to engage in the national dialogue," he added

The PCP split from the NCP following 1999’s bitter power struggle between Bashir and Turabi, with the latter was ousted from his post as parliamentary speaker and the chairmanship of the ruling party alike.

Turabi later established the PCP and has since been a vociferous critic of the very regime whose army-backed seizure of power in 1989 he orchestrated.

He didn’t rule out the possibility of reuniting the Islamic Movement (IM), saying Islamist should organize themselves in order to face campaigns which seek to distort the image of Islam.

Abdel-Salam also said "if we want to draft a genuine national constitution, we have to end the ongoing fighting in various parts of the country and engage arms bearers in its making".

He warned against exploiting state’s resources by any political party, calling for the neutrality of the regular forces including the army, police, and security forces.

Abdel-Salam also affirmed the need for strengthening Sudanese identity and national loyalty besides building trust among all components of the society.

The NUP and the PCP are the only opposition parties who so far announced their acceptance to Bashir’s call for national dialogue.

Sudan’s opposition parties refuses NCP call for dialogue and instead propose 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, in accordance with the opposition platform, 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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