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Bashir to meet with opposition forces participating in national dialogue

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June 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour has disclosed that president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, will meet with the political forces which agreed to participate in the national dialogue in the next few days to discuss ways for pushing forward the process.

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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)

Rapprochement between the government and opposition parties has began to stumble following detention of the National Umma Party (NUP) chief al-Sadiq al-Mahdi last month.

The NUP and the opposition Reform Now Party (RNP) suspended participation to protest al-Mahdi’s arrest and what they said was a government crackdown on political and media liberties.

Following al-Mahdi’s release last week, the NUP suggested that it intends to set new conditions in order to resume participation in the national dialogue stressing the process cannot start from the point where it stopped prior to the arrest of its leader.

Ghandour, who spoke at a seminar in Khartoum on Sunday, said he will meet with Bashir in the coming hours to determine the date for the start of the national dialogue. He also acknowledged that the economic crisis was one of the reasons which forced his party to launch the dialogue initiative.

He pointed to the possibility for reaching understandings with the opposition on elections dates when the issue is discussed in the national dialogue, affirming that constitutionality of holding elections as scheduled is not a barrier to reaching an agreement.

The presidential assistant alluded to the possibility of postponing elections if the participants in the national dialogue agreed on that, refusing to make a connection between the recent amendments to the electoral law which allows small parties to be represented in the parliament and the national dialogue.

He said the government which will be formed following the national dialogue will organize the general elections, noting the amendments to electoral law were based on the recommendations submitted by the National Elections Commission (NEC) following a workshop that was held in coordination with the United Nations and the political parties in October 2012.

Ghandour said the amendments serve interests of the rising political parties not the major ones, criticising opposition parties which refused to engage in the dialogue only after achieving democracy.

“If elections were not a democratic process, what is democracy in their point of view?” he wondered

Meanwhile, the former cabinet affairs minister, Mohamed Mokhtar, said the recent amendments to electoral law reduces the number of MPs who come from the geographical constituencies by 10%.

He underscored that those amendments has nothing to do with the national dialogue, emphasizing they were made within the framework of the constitutional process which requires making preparations eight months before elections date.

“If the national dialogue decided to delay the elections, the decision could be made in one day,” he said, adding that he does not believe elections would be held on time if amendments to the electoral law were not made.

Sudan’s general elections are set to be held in April 2015 but opposition parties threatened to boycott it, saying the NCP holds absolute control over power and refuses to make any compromises to end the civil war and allow public freedoms.

(ST)

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