May 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) has revealed ongoing contacts with the rebel alliance of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) saying a meeting between the two sides will be held soon.
- SRF leaders, form the left, Gibril Ibrahim (JEM), Malik Agar (SPLM-N), Abdel wahil Al Nur (SLM-AW) Minnin Minnawi (SLM-MM) and Yasir Arman (SPLM-N), on 4 October 2012 after the signing of a new political agreement between the rebel groups in Kampala, Uganda (Photo SRF)
The PCP political secretary, Kamal Omer Abdel-Salam, said at a press conference on Tuesday that his party is qualified to clear the air following detention of the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP), Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, saying the latter’s case has become more complicated.
He declared his party’s solidarity with Al-Mahdi, saying the move would negatively impact the atmosphere of dialogue and freedoms.
Al-Mahdi was arrested over the weekend by Sudanese security and charged on several counts including undermining the constitutional order and opposing the regime through force.
He was questioned before state security prosecutors last Thursday regarding remarks he made claiming that Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have committed serious abuses in conflict zones in Darfur and Kordofan including rape as well as looting and burning villages.
Abdel-Salam accused the government of wiggling out of its previous pledges to allow public freedoms and create an environment conducive for national dialogue.
But the PCP official categorically denied any intention to suspend their participation in the national dialogue in protest of al-Mahdi’s arrest, underscoring that dialogue is a crucial issue that cannot be suspended.
He pointed out that al-Mahdi’s detention must be a cause for sticking to the dialogue, vowing to pressure the government to release him.
Abdel-Salam said his party will declare a clear stance toward the RSF government militia if the latter commits criminal offenses, holding the government responsible for its acts.
The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilied by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.
The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the command of the NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.
Sudanese officials say the RSF is part of the NISS but operationally follow the army.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Nasserite Unitary Party, Jamal Idriss, disclosed that the SRF and the opposition alliance National Consensus Forces (NCF) will replace the “New Dawn” charter signed between the two parties with a more developed document they are currently working on.
He said at a press conference on Tuesday that the NCF has not abandoned the “New Dawn” charter and the constitutional declaration, saying the former was agreed upon by all political and armed groups while the latter was agreed on by the NCF, NUP, and the PCP.
Last December, the opposition parties and the rebel groups signed the "New Dawn" charter in Ugandan capital, Kampala.
The signatories to the deal included the NUP, PCP, Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), Sudan Liberation Movement of Abdel-Wahid Mohamed Nur (SLM-AW) and Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM).
The participants agreed on the goal of changing the regime but were at odds over whether they should use political or military means. They also concurred on the need to prevent exploitation of religion in politics.
The NUP, PCP and SCP later appeared to distance themselves from the agreement saying they were rushed into signing and voiced objections over some of its clauses.
Idriss denied existence of military coordination between his party and the SRF, saying they don’t count on the latter to overthrow the regime but bet on the agreement of all political forces to achieve the desired change.
He described the government’s dialogue initiative as a “mere cover” for reuniting the PCP and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), adding the current government-led dialogue process will not lead to any change.
Idriss further noted the government-led dialogue is only aiming to prevent outbreak of the popular uprising, demanding NCF to escalate mass action with all peaceful means and broaden the base of coordination with all components of the Sudanese people.
Last January, the Sudanese president called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalising national identity.
He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last month with the participation of 83 political parties.
However, the NCF boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.
The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.