June 14, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s opposition National Umma Party (NUP) and the National Unionist Party have agreed not to engage in any dialogue with the government unless public liberties are improved and all political and armed groups take part.
The two parties called for the release of the NUP leader, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, and the leader of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), Ibrahim al-Sheikh.
Al-Mahdi and al-Sheikh were arrested at different times for criticising alleged crimes and atrocities committed by the Rapid Support Force (RSF) militia. Both leaders face charges punishable by death if convicted.
The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, was originally mobilised 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 National Intelligence and Security Services (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.
The two parties, in a joint statement on Thursday, called for releasing all political detainees and condemned violations of the right of political parties to discuss public issues.
The NUP side, which was headed by its communication officer Meriam al-Mahdi, and the National Unionist Party side, which was headed by its leader Youssef Mohamed Zain, pledged to work jointly and with all national forces to restore freedoms, saying they would set up the necessary executive mechanisms to achieve that goal.
The two parties saw the need for engaging the marginalised people besides women and youth in the dialogue as well as determining the dialogue’s objectives.
“The objective of dialogue is to dismantle the one-party state and establish a national one, achieving comprehensive peace which is based upon democracy and justice so that Sudan could enjoy sustainable development and build regional and international relations on the basis of a clear strategy that seeks to achieve international cooperation in order to bring about stability, development, and security”, the statement reads.
They attributed Sudan’s current crisis to the totalitarian, ideological, and exclusionary policies of the regime which are based on violence and rupture of the social fabric.
The statement also held the regime responsible for the pervasive poverty in the country and outbreak of civil war in several parts of it, saying the government formed unconstitutional paramilitary militias that contributed to deepening the already existing sentiments of anger and injustice.
It further criticised the government for criminalising political leaders who call for investigating practices of these militias, pointing to the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1593 which stated that Sudanese judiciary is unable and unwilling to address the situation in Darfur which led the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue arrest warrants against the president and other senior officials in a historical precedent.
The statement also criticised the government’s use of Islamic jihad (holy war) slogans against rebel groups in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, calling on all national parties to join forces in order to overthrow the regime.