June 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The opposition National Umma Party (NUP) warned the Sudanese government that it now faces two choices, either seek a political solution after making revisions to national dialogue process, or dismiss it and focus on the choice of a popular uprising.
- Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party, flanked by supporters as he leaves the state prosecutor’s office in Khartoumon 15 May 2014 (ST)
At a meeting of its politburo on Saturday night, the NUP endorsed its leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi’s position on the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and his view that security should be exclusively the task of uniformed forces and not militias.
Sudanese officials say the RSF is part of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) but operationally follows the army.
The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, was originally mobilized 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 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.
Al-Mahdi was thrown in jail for almost a month after accusing the paramilitary unit of committing serious abuses against civilians in conflict zones. He was released after the NUP’s Central Commission issued an appeal addressed to the prosecutors and justice minister downplaying its leader’s remarks and asserting that is derived from complaints and claims "that are not necessarily all true".
The party’s leader later defended the move, saying “it was not an appeal but a clarification procedure”.
In its statement, the NUP politburo called for an investigation into the alleged RSF abuses and bringing justice to the oppressed, "or else the international community will intervene, as happened before”.
In the same context, Bashir was quoted by a local newspaper on Sunday, as saying that "the supreme interests of the country and its national security is the ceiling at which the freedom of any individual ends, no matter how high their status is".
He challenged anyone to prove alleged violations by the RSF since operating in Darfur, adding that all breaches attributed to them that occurred in northern Kordofan "has occurred in circumstances known to the leadership all of which are now undergoing legal procedures”.
Sudanese authorities continue to hold the leader of the Congress Party Ibrahim al-Sheikh for criticizing the RSF. The arrests of party leaders and political activists coupled with closures and confiscation of newspapers cast a shadow on the national dialogue initiative launched by President Omer Hassan al-Bashir last January.
The NUP and Reform Now Party (RNP) of former presidential adviser Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Attabani have already suspended participation in the dialogue process over recent government crackdown on press and political liberties.
The NUP politburo said the required essential revisions include removing selectivity in dialogue and making it inclusive with the participation of all political forces and armed movements, putting a link between the political solution and the peace process, allowing for public freedoms and the abolition of laws restricting liberties and the release of all political prisoners.
The largest Sudanese opposition party called upon the international community, especially human rights organizations, to press for the release of the detainees and confirm their safety immediately. It also refused crackdown on the press and censorship aimed at covering up corruption and protecting the perpetrators.
The NUP also expressed dismay at the escalating suffering of the Sudanese people due to rising cost of living, declining economic indicators, and deterioration in all services, "at a time when public money is wasted by corruption". The party renewed its call to fight serious corruption through an independent commission.