April 11, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the opposition Reform Now Party (RNP), Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani, has called on opposition parties and armed groups who have refused to take part in the government’s initiative for national dialogue to join the process for peace and democratic transformation.
- Leader of the Reform Now Movement (RNM) Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Attabani (Photo: Reuters)
Speaking on a talk show broadcast by the state-run Radio Omdurman on Friday, Attabani said that opposition forces should not miss the opportunity to participate in national dialogue, adding that recent presidential directives opened a new door of hope.
He also urged Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to move forward in the reform process, saying he has an historic opportunity to become “the champion of the comprehensive political reform”.
Last week, Bashir issued several decrees including releasing political detainees and allowing political parties to carry out their activities and hold public meetings and seminars, as well as giving them equal access to state media.
This presidential move came in response to demands of opposition forces for allowing public freedoms and creating environment conducive for national dialogue.
Sudan’s National and Security Services (NISS) released several political activists last Monday, including five members of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP).
But last week the RNP claimed that NISS officials prevented the party from holding a seminar at Omdurman Ahlia University (OAU) despite obtaining prior permission.
NISS later denied its officers were to blame, instead pointing the finger at OAU security guards.
On Wednesday, the opposition umbrella organisation of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) and the rebel alliance, the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF), issued a joint statement demanding a peaceful resolution of Sudan’s crises.
The statement demanded an independent mechanism to administer dialogue among all parties, and called for agreement on a clear roadmap which leads to transitional arrangements and an interim government to implement the terms.
It further asked to hold a constitutional conference with the participation of all political and social forces without exclusion in order to arrive at comprehensive solutions for Sudan’s crises and drafting a democratic elections law.
The RNP leader said armed action had lost its appeal, pointing to local, regional and international support for peace. He added that negotiations are the most effective means for resolving problems among disputing parties.
He said that successful talks require offering several conditions including equality, efficiency, and seriousness particularly from the party holding power, adding that any call coming from someone who have the power to make decisions that could end problems must be met positively.
Attabani asserted that constitutional safeguards represent the most important requirement for the national dialogue, demanding the ruling party to disengage from the state in order for the latter to become neutral.
The RNP leader is a former leading member from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) who splintered last year over calls for reforms and need to fight corruption.
In a televised address to the nation late last January, the Sudanese president 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 and even rebel groups should they lay down arms to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items to achieve these objectives.
So far NCP officials, including Bashir, have brushed aside opposition calls to delay the 2015 general elections, and to form a transitional government that would work on drafting a new constitution to prepare the country for the polls.
The National Umma Party (NUP) and the Popular Congress Party are the only major opposition parties who have so far accepted Bashir’s call for national dialogue.