July 30, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of Sudan’s Popular Congress Party (PCP), Hassan al-Turabi, said his party participated in the national dialogue in order to return “power to the people”, disclosing he demanded the government delay the 2015 elections.
- Head of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Hassan al-Turabi gestures during an interview in Khartoum on 3 October 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
Turabi, who delivered a Eid al-Fitr sermon at a mosque in his native village on Monday, said they accepted president, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, initiative for national dialogue in order to return power to the Sudanese people, stressing he asked the government to extend elections date to allow political parties contact their bases.
Reliable sources from opposition side in the national dialogue committee known as 7+7 told Sudan Tribune that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) expressed reservation on issues of the transitional government and review of elections law while opposition forces insists on discussing these issues before the 2015 elections.
Sudan’s general elections are set to be held in April 2015 but opposition parties threatened to boycott it saying NCP holds absolute control over power and refuse to make any compromise to end the civil war and allow public liberties.
Sudan’s National Elections Commission (NEC) had previously said it received requests from political parties last April to delay elections.
The NEC chief, Mukhtar al-Asam, said they received requests for postponing elections from the PCP and the National Umma Party led by, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, due to financial difficulties and the country’s present circumstances.
He said the NEC agreed with these political parties on the possibility for postponing elections until improving their financial position.
However, after conflicting statements from government officials, Bashir emphasised that there will be no postponement for next year’s elections and even berated NCP officials who suggested otherwise.
Turabi urged residents of his village to properly choose their representative in the parliament, calling upon them to take elections seriously.
The veteran Islamic leader ruled out running in the upcoming elections, saying it must be fair and transparent.
He further demanded the government to allow neutral bodies oversee elections.
Last week, the 7+7 committee said it has partially agreed on a roadmap for a process to realise peace and democratic reforms.
Presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, said the committee agreed to more than %90 of the roadmap, noting the framework agreement would be completed no later than Eid al-Fitr [feast of breaking the fast of Ramadan] holiday.
He expressed optimism that political forces would confidently move towards the national dialogue.
Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalizing national identity.
He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last April with the participation of 83 political parties.
The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.
The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.
Bashir at the time instructed authorities in the states and localities across Sudan to enable political parties to carry out their activities inside and outside their headquarters without restrictions except those dictated by the law.
The Sudanese president also pledged to enhance press freedom so that it can play its role in the success of the national dialogue unconditionally as long they abide by the norms of the profession.
Political detainees who have not been found to be involved in criminal acts will be released, Bashir said
But since then, Sudanese authorities arrested al-Mahdi and the head of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) Ibrahim al-Sheikh. It also intensified its censorship of newspapers by either suspension or shutting down the entire media houses.
The NUP suspended its participation in national dialogue following detention of its leader in May after he criticised government militia, accusing them of committing war crimes in Darfur. After his release in June, Mahdi said there is a need to review the current process and to include rebels in the political process.
The PCP refused to suspend its participation in the national dialogue, saying all current difficulties can be resolved within the existing mechanisms.