June 7, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese opposition parties which agreed to participate in the national dialogue process called for by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir earlier this year have failed to reach a decision on whether to boycott the process amid diverging views at a meeting on Saturday.
- 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)
The meeting which was comprised of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Reform Now Party (RNP) and Just Peace Forum (JPF) discussed the current political situation and recent developments after the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi was arrested last month.
As a result, the NUP announced that it will suspend participation in dialogue and the RNP followed suit this week citing crackdown by government on basic freedoms after al-Mahdi’s detention and closure of al-Saiha newspaper.
JPF head al-Tayeb Mustafa told reporters that parties in today’s meeting expressed dismay at the behavior of Sudanese authorities which adversely impacted the general atmosphere.
Mustafa disclosed that they requested an urgent meeting with president Bashir to protest these actions and demand a return to dialogue and an end to all its impediments and particularly the release of al-Mahdi
“If it materialises so be it, if it does not materialize we will withdraw and suspend dialogue,” he said.
Mustafa said all parties agreed on boycotting dialogue but decided to grant the president a chance to intervene and rectify things else "things will go back to square one".
It is not clear if that includes the PCP led by Hassan al-Turabi which insisted in the past that it will remain in the dialogue despite all the setbacks and even if all the others withdrew.
But PCP figure al-Mahboub Abdel-Salam in an interview with Sudan TV expressed surprise about the government’s actions noting that while it calls on rebels for dialogue it turns around and arrests “a pillar of dialogue” in reference to NUP chief.
On Thursday a ruling National Congress Party (NCP) official said that are behind the scene moves to bring national dialogue back on track, but did not elaborate though some observers projected that this would include a decision to free al- Mahdi.
Late last January, the Sudanese leader announced in a televised address to the nation 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 to lay down arms to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items to achieve these objectives.