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US, UK & EU welcome release of Sudanese opposition leader

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June 16, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The European Union (EU), the United States and Britain on Monday praised the release of the National Umma Party (NUP) leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, and called it a step in the right direction for the success of the national dialogue initiative launched by Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir last January.

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Former Sudanese Prime Minister and leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi (AFP)

Al-Mahdi was freed almost a month after he was arrested for accusing government militias of committing serious abuses in conflict zones. The leader of the Sudan Congress Party Ibrahim al-Sheikh remains in jail on same charges.

A delegation of EU ambassadors in Khartoum visited al-Mahdi at his residence in Sudan’s twin capital city of Omdurman.

The EU ambassador to Sudan Tomas Ulicny told reporters that "we came here to congratulate the Chairman of the Umma National Party on his release. The decision to release UNP Chairman and leading national figure Al Sadiq Al Mahdi is a step into right direction to resume the national dialogue for which Al Sadiq al Mahdi and the UNP are indispensable participants”.

He recalled that the EU issued a number of statements in the past calling for the release of al-Mahdi and all other detainees in Sudan.

"We hope the release of Al Mahdi will be followed by the release of all the remaining political prisoners including human rights activists to resume a genuine national dialogue process, thus paving the way for creation of a national consensus that will promote unity and stability of the country,” Ulicny said.

For its part, Britain renewed its call on armed movements to join the national dialogue and commended authorities for freeing al-Mahdi.

The British ambassador in Khartoum Peter Tibber met with presidential assistant Jalal al-Digair on Monday to discuss bilateral cooperation and noted the strong will of the two countries to bring relations to its desired levels.

Tibber told reporters after the meeting that his country is ready to cooperate with Sudan in the political field and support efforts that are conducive to peace in the country.

The British ambassador expressed hoped that dialogue will continue between all Sudanese political forces to reach a national consensus.

The U.S. charge d’affaires in Khartoum Jerry Lanier said the release of al-Mahdi demonstrated the commitment of the Sudanese government and its credibility when it comes to national dialogue.

He said after a meeting with presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour, that he was briefed on the dialogue process and also discussed relations between the two countries as well as the latest developments in Sudan.

The NUP and the Reform Now Party (RNP) suspended participation in the dialogue process in light of al-Mahdi’s arrest and what they said was a government crackdown on political and media liberties.

(ST)

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