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Sudan’s NUP leader still committed to national dialogue: official

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July 1, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour has underscored that the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, is remains fully committed to the national dialogue process, saying he only wants further contact among participants.

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Opposition Umma Party leader and former Prime Minister Al-Sadiq Al Mahdi speaks during joint news conference with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir (R) after their meeting at Mahadi’s house in Omdurman August 27, 2013 (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

At the end of January, Bashir launched the national dialogue initiative aimed at holding a comprehensive conference on a new constitution and ways to end the armed conflicts in the Two Areas and Darfur. He also issued a number of presidential decrees to ensure freedom of expression, press freedom and creating a conducive environment for this political process.

However, the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Reform Now Party (RNP) suspended participation in the dialogue process in protest against al-Mahdi’s arrest last month and what they said was a government crackdown on political and media liberties.

Ghandour, told reporters following a meeting of the National Congress Party (NCP) youths secretariat on Tuesday that al-Mahdi did not mention at any point in time his intention to leave the dialogue.

Al-Mahdi on Thursday launched a new dialogue initiative which seeks to unite all Sudanese forces including the rebel alliance of the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF) besides asking the international community to lift economic sanctions and cancel foreign debts in return for achieving comprehensive peace and democratic transformation.

The presidential assistant scoffed at accusations by opposition parties that the NCP disavowed the national dialogue, accusing them of abandoning dialogue and affirming his party’s commitment to the process.

He accused unnamed two opposition parties within the national dialogue mechanism of being hesitant towards the dialogue process, expressing his party’s readiness to immediately begin the meetings of the mechanism.

The NUP suggested that it intends to set new conditions in order to resume participation in the national dialogue stressing that this process cannot start from the point where it stopped prior to the arrest of its leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi.

The RNP on the other hand said that a new thesis of dialogue must replace the current one.

The dialogue mechanism, which is headed by president Bashir, includes seven members from the government side and an equal number from the opposition. The mechanism work was suspended following arrest of al-Mahdi on May 17th.

GOVERNMENT READY FOR NEGOTIATIONS

Meanwhile, Ghandour underscored that the government is ready to engage in negotiations with the rebel Sudanese People’s Liberations Movement/North (SPLM-N) on the Two Areas if it receive an invitation from African Union (AU) mediation team.

“We are waiting for the invitation and we are ready to engage in the negotiations anytime and anywhere”, he said.

He doubted the SPLM-N intention to engage in the negotiations, saying the other side is still reluctant to attend.

The border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile state have been the scene of violent conflict since 2011 when the SPLM-N launched an insurgency against the Khartoum regime.

Peace talks between the two parties remain deadlocked after they failed to reach a common ground for negotiations. While the government says it is only willing to discuss the conflict in the Two Areas, the SPLM-N is demanding a comprehensive peace process.

(ST)

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