May 23, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Secretary General of the rebel Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N), Yasser Arman, has denounced the detention of the National Umma Party (NUP) leader, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, calling upon the latter to work with the rebel alliance in order to overthrow the regime.
- Secretary General of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), Yasir Arman (File / Reuters)
Arman said in press statements on Friday that president Omer Hassan al-Bashir is not serious about introducing true democratic change, saying the latter’s call for comprehensive national dialogue is only aimed at making cosmetic changes and reproducing his regime.
Last January, Bashir 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 revitalizing national identity.
He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last month with the participation of 83 political parties.
The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (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.
Arman underscored that the regime is irreparable, saying al-Mahdi’s arrest and the death sentence which was issued against the pregnant women accused of apostasy have revealed its true intention.
“We have to unify the opposition and agree on a clear program to overthrow the regime. This is a historic moment that we must not miss, and if we miss it history will not forgive us and so will the Sudanese people”, he added
The SPLM-N Secretary General further said they are waiting for al-Mahdi’s release in order join forces with other opposition leaders to overthrow the regime, saying that the former Prime Minister has moral and political obligation to change the regime which toppled the government he led.
Al-Mahdi, was the last democratically elected Prime Minister before the 1989 coup d’état which brought Bashir to power.
He was arrested last week, days after he was called for questioning by state prosecutors over statements he made accusing the Sudan’s paramilitary unit known as the Rapid Support Force (RSF) of committing abuses against civilians in Darfur and Kordofan regions.
The political parties that are taking part in the national dialogue process agreed to work collectively to press government to release Al-Mahdi and arrange a meeting with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir for that purpose.
Following al-Mahdi’s arrest, the NUP announced that it suspended its participation in the national dialogue process and called for mobilization among its members.
But the opposition Reform Now Party (RNP) has reportedly said that the NUP did not officially inform them of suspending its participation in the national dialogue’s higher coordination committee headed by president Bashir.
Arman disclosed ongoing contacts between the rebel alliance, Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the opposition forces in order to reorganize the opposition but didn’t reveal the nature of those contacts.
The opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) had announced last week that it will meet with the SRF but wouldn’t suspend participation in the national dialogue.
The NCF also revealed ongoing contacts with the SRF to develop the “New Dawn” charter signed between the sides last year in order to agree on a new document to carry out the democratic change.
Last month, the SRF proposed a roadmap to achieve a comprehensive solution to end war in the southern and western parts of the country and ensure democratic transition in Sudan.
But the non-rebel opposition forces in Sudan cautiously welcomed the three-phase peace plan with some saying they need to review it before taking a position while others voiced their objection to a peace process held outside the country.
In a related issue, the SPLM-N secretary general emphasized their commitment to the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2046 and AU Peace and Security Commission (AUPSC) decisions on this respect, adding they will not boycott the peace process even if they reject unilateral negotiations with the government.
The resolution 2046 “is a recognition (…) and an international victory for our cause. Our refusal to negotiate will help the regime to get out of its predicament, and allow it to tell the international community that the only solution is to follow the path of war,” Arman said
He added that venue of the talks allow them to prove Khartoum’s unwillingness to end war and to embark on the path of peace.
The Sudanese government and the SPLM-N failed last April to agree on a draft framework agreement proposed by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) calling to negotiate a peace deal to end the three-year conflict in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.