June 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, has described president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s national dialogue initiative as a “false dawn” saying it failed the first test on freedom of expression.
- Sudan’s former prime minister and head of the National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadiq al-Mahdi (R) waves to protesters during a demonstration against the Israeli raids on Lebanon in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on 21 July 2006 (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin)
The last democratically elected Prime Minister said the fragility of the “dead” initiative was exposed when the regime did not tolerate genuine advice.
Al-Mahdi, who agreed to participate in the national dialogue, was arrested on May 17th for criticizing alleged crimes and atrocities committed by the Rapid Support Force (RSF) government militia in conflict zones.
He was released last Sunday and the state media said the move was done after al-Mahdi’s lawyers appealed to the justice minister Mohamed Bushara Dousa to use his powers under article (58) of Sudan’s penal code which allows him to stop criminal proceedings against any suspect at any point before being sentenced by a court.
It also carried a statement by NUP Central Commission stating that they support the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and said that what al-Mahdi mentioned regarding RSF is derived from complaints and claims "that are not necessarily all true".
However, al-Mahdi said in his Friday prayer sermon that the Central Commission’s statement was misinterpreted, adding that it was not an apology but “a clarification action”.
He called for allowing freedoms and releasing all political detainees particularly the leader of the Sudanese Congress Party, Ibrahim al-Sheikh, and University of Khartoum’s (UofK) students, Mohamed Salah, Tag al-Sir Ja’afar, and Muamar Musa.
The NUP leader underscored that the several initiatives he made convinced many parties to join the national dialogue and were accepted by some international circles, pointing to his proposal for forming a hybrid court to investigate right abuses committed in the Western region of Darfur instead of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
He also mentioned his proposal for setting up a transitional justice mechanism which is based on truth and reconciliation similar to that of South Africa.
“In spite of all these achievements the regime didn’t tolerate freedom of expression and genuine advice which revealed weakness of the dead dialogue process”, he added
Al-Mahdi further said that when Bashir called for an open dialogue which is not dominated by one party and doesn’t exclude any political force, a wave of optimism swept the whole country that a new dawn is coming, noting that dawn was false because the dialogue process failed to pass the first test of freedom of expression.
The veteran leader added he will transcend the bitterness of injustice and focus on the deficiencies of the objective experience, pointing that dialogue process cannot proceed forward without undertaking major reviews which lead to the fulfillment of a more feasible scheme for political solution.
“There is a chance for reviewing the political solution scheme in order to get rid of the flaws which adversely impacted its feasibility”, he added.
He vowed to conduct extensive contacts with all political parties in order to agree on a unified vision for the formation of the aspired comprehensive mechanism.
Al-Mahdi said he will then propose a national mechanism for achieving the just and comprehensive peace and connects between the peace process and the national agreement.
He underscored the need for providing a new and feasible structure for the political scheme which seeks to establish a new regime that achieves just and comprehensive peace and full democratic transformation.
“These principles will only be achieved in a new regime that liberates states’ institutions from the one-party control, allows public freedoms, and drafts a consensual constitution through a democratic mechanism”, he said.