March 31, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) led by Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani has laid out its view on the national dialogue initiative announced by the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir earlier this year.
- Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat)
In a televised address to the nation late last January, 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”.
He further called on political forces and even rebel groups should they lay down arms to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items to achieve these objectives.
The DUP urged the government to declare general amnesty for the rebel groups in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile besides allowing public freedoms and declaring an immediate ceasefire as of today as an essential part of the requirements for creating environment conducive for dialogue.
The DUP is a major partner in the “broad-based” government of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), but its vision has matched with that of the opposition parties which rejected the government’s call for national dialogue.
The DUP stated at a press conference on Monday seven requirements for creating the appropriate atmosphere for dialogue, calling the government to implement them immediately.
These requirements include releasing political detainees and forming an independent committee in line with international standards to investigate all abuses besides removing the damages and injustices.
The DUP’s spokesperson, Ibrahim al-Mirghani, said they proposed dividing the dialogue agendas into three main categories, including national principles, urgent national issues, and the implementation mechanisms, underscoring the need for establishing a national interim government to carry out tasks of the transitional period.
He said the transitional period should be governed by a provisional constitution or a constitutional declaration until drafting the interim constitution and the new elections law.
Al-Mirghani stressed the need for inviting regional and international organisations to monitor the national dialogue process including the Arab League, African Union, the European Union and the United Nations.
He mentioned 11 agreements to be used as references for the dialogue on top of which is the agreement signed between the government and the rebel SPLM-N in June 2011 besides the New Dawn Charter, which was signed by various opposition parties and rebel groups despite being rejected by the government.
The spokesperson also pointed to the 2005 Cairo Agreement which was signed by the government and the ex-opposition alliance, National Democratic Alliance (NDA), as well as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) protocol on the Two Areas.
He further demanded that political parties commit themselves to five requirements including stopping the negative media campaigns besides staying away from setting preconditions.
Al-Mirghani denied inconsistency in their position as partners in the government and their demands from it to meet certain requirements.
“Being partners in the government doesn’t mean we merged with the NCP and it doesn’t prevent us from announcing our own reform proposal,” he added
He asserted his party is still considering a recommendation for pulling out of the government.
Following the September 2013 protests against lifting fuel subsidies, al-Mirghani established a committee to look into whether or not the DUP should continue in the NCP-dominated cabinet.
The panel unanimously recommended that the party withdraw from the government, although the decision is not binding and the DUP chief can overrule it.
The DUP left opposition ranks and joined the broad-based government of the NCP in December 2011, citing the “need to save the country” in the words of al-Mirghani himself.
The decision of one of Sudan’s biggest opposition parties to join the government has created a great deal of internal dissent that saw many members quitting in protest.