August 19, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s opposition National Umma Party (NUP) reaffirmed its demand to review the national dialogue, saying the ongoing process is just a meeting between Islamist parties.
- Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir (C-R) greets supporters while Hassan al-Turabi (L) smiles and Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Attabani stands besides him after his speech calling for national dialogue on 27 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Ebrahim Hamid)
On 8 August the NUP signed with the rebel alliance of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) a declaration of principles to achieve peace and democratic reforms in Sudan.
The government rejected the Declaration saying it opens the door for external intervention in the Sudanese internal affairs. Khartoum also rebuffed a cessation of hostility for two months offered by the rebels as gesture of goodwill.
On Monday, the visiting head of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) met a delegation from the NUP to discuss the declaration and the position of the opposition party from the national dialogue process.
The NUP deputy chairman, Fadl Allah Burma Nasir, and the party’s secretary-general, Sara Nugd Allah, held in a press conference on Tuesday to brief the media about this meeting and to react to the recent statements by the government officials.
The NUP secretary-general told reporters they told the head of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki, that “the ongoing national dialogue is nothing but a mere meeting of some political parties which share ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood”.
Nugd Allah was referring to the two splinting factions of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and the Reform Now Movement (RNM), which participate in the national dialogue.
She disclosed that Mbeki told the NUP delegation that the international community is counting on the ongoing national dialogue, adding “we informed him that we would never participate in such a futile dialogue”.
She further threatened to spark a popular uprising if the government continued to refuse the Paris Declaration, underscoring they already embarked on mobilising their followers.
Nugd Allah also pointed they agreed with Mbeki to set a date for him to meet with al-Mahdi and SRF leader Malik Agar to discuss the Paris Declaration.
Al-Mahdi flew from Paris to Cairo after he signed the Paris Declaration. There are rumours that he will not return to Sudan soon particularly as his daughter Meriam has been detained since her return from the French capital where she participated in talks with rebel groups.
The NUP leader had been arrested on May 17th for criticising alleged crimes and atrocities committed by the Rapid Support Force (RSF) militia. He spent a month in prison and was released after the government said he offered an apology.
Nasir said the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan al-Turabi rejected Paris Declaration in order to serve partisan interests and cling to power.
He further stressed that the NUP leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi does not fear detention when he returns to Sudan, saying the party would decide whether he will return to Sudan or stay abroad when al-Mahdi finishes his diplomatic contacts with the regional and international community to explain the accord.
Observers in the Sudanese capital underlined the widening gap between the positions of the Umma party and the forces of the national dialogue particularly the PCP of Hassan al-Turabi and the RNM led by Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Attabani.
In January, Bashir called on political parties and rebel groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss ways to bring peace in the country and to achieve constitutional reforms.
Since the beginning, the coalition of left parties, National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, asking the government first to stop war and create a conducive environment for the dialogue.
The SRF rejected Bashir’s call, saying the government only seeks to buy time in order to produce another version of the same regime. The rebels also proposed an alternative roadmap calling for a “national constitutional dialogue” after direct talks with them on issued related to the conflict’s regions.
The NUP suspended its participation in the national dialogue after the arrest of its al-Mahdi last May. The opposition party demands to include the rebels in the process and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Last week, the government and the opposition parties participating in the national dialogue signed a framework agreement providing they will discuss a mechanism to implement the outcome of the political process.