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Sudan opposition leader sets conditions for resuming participation in national dialogue

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July 15, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Sadiq al-Mahdi, has criticised the recent wave of restrictions imposed on political freedoms, saying the party would only resume participation in the national dialogue process if the government adopts laws to achieve a binding national accord and peace.

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The leader of Sudan’s opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Sadiq al-Mahdi (Photo: Reuters)

In his first speech to the party’s members since his release from detention on 15 June, Al-Mahdi expressed pessimism about the national dialogue, expressing regret over the government’s efforts to restrict the process to fit with its own agenda.

The opposition leader further said that under such conditions the only choice left was to unify all political and armed opposition forces to work peacefully to achieve peace and re-establish democratic transformation in Sudan.

He called for these forces to unite under the “National Construction Charter: United Diversity” and use all necessary means to establish a new regime excluding violence.

“If the regime realises the reality of the situation and decides to seriously take proactive steps to achieve the popular and legitimate demands, the way forwards is to adjust the national dialogue process,” he said.

“The way to do that is to adhere to policies protected from twists and embodied in laws, particularly two laws: the law of the construction of [a] national agreement and peace-building law,” added al-Mahdi.

According to the former prime minister, the national agreement should focus on issues related to democratic transition, with the participation of “the six historical parties” and any other important new political formation. He also said this process should be headed by a neutral chairmanship, rejecting the current leadership under president Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

Regarding the peace-building law, al-Mahdi said political parties involved in the national dialogue process should participate in the peace talks with rebel groups, calling for talks with rebel groups in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan to be mediated by the African Union (AU) with observers from the international community.

The Sudanese government has so far rejected demands by rebel groups to unify the two existing tracks for peace in Darfur and the Two Areas.

The NUP suspended its participation in national dialogue following al-Mahdi’s detention in May after he criticised government militia, accusing them of committing war crimes in Darfur. After his release, Mahdi said there is a need to review the current process.

Last Thursday, the national dialogue mechanism held a meeting without the NUP and the Reform Now Party (RNP), led by the former presidential adviser Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani.

The RNP, which was established by a splinter group from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), said on Monday the party had decided to resume its participation in the process after a meeting of its leadership council.

Another, Islamist party, the Popular Congress Party (PCP), led by Hassan al-Turabi refused to suspend its participation in the national dialogue, saying all current difficulties can be resolved within the existing mechanisms.

Turabi’s party also said it would seek to persuade the NUP and RNP to rejoin the national dialogue.

RNP RESUMES PARTICIPATION

Following a meeting held on Tuesday, the RNP political bureau decided to end its boycott of the political process, vowing to work towards achieving a political consensus to end war and restore democracy in Sudan.

“In consideration of demands from our political partners in the mechanism of national dialogue, based [on] developments occurring in the path of dialogue and in order to test the government’s seriousness towards dialogue and its outputs, the political bureau decided to activate the participation of the movement in the 7 +7 Committee and evaluate the subsequent political positions to the movement in accordance with the outputs of the upcoming meetings,” said a statement released at the end of the meeting .

“The RNP political bureau decided to coordinate with all political forces to achieve political consensus through a national project that gathers all Sudanese on the minimum necessary [requirements] to build a state of justice,” the communiqué adds.

(ST)

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