August 29, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Several opposition political parties participating in the national dialogue initiative launched by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir painted a gloomy picture of the process describing it as “dialogue of the deaf”.
- Sudan’s national dialogue 7+7 committee (Ashorooq TV)
Earlier this month, the national dialogue committee known as 7+7, comprised of equal numbers of government parties and opposition ones signed a framework agreement on national dialogue, including its basic principles, requirements, objective and a mechanism to implement its outcome.
The roadmap calls for releasing all political prisoners, allowing political liberties and freedom of expression and publication, and holding the judiciary responsible for tackling issues of publication and expression without resorting to exceptional measures through the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).
The secretary-general of the Beja Congress, Mohamed al-Muatassim Ahmed, described the roadmap as “mere ink on paper”, noting that political detainees have not yet been released.
He added that several issues which are being stated in the roadmap as prelude to the dialogue were not implemented.
Ahmed did not rule out that the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadiq al-Mahdi could soon rejoin the national dialogue, saying the latter did not inform them that he abandoned the dialogue.
“He [al-Mahdi] left the dialogue temporarily and would return within several weeks,” he added
The secretary-general of the Justice Party, Bushara Gumaa, pointed to manoeuvres and contentions among political parties within the 7+7 committee, criticising the slow pace of the dialogue process.
He underscored the need to agree on the dialogue principles and rules and develop a charter of honor among the parties participating in the dialogue.
Gumaa denied that Paris Declaration signed between the NUP and the rebel alliance of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) represent views of the opposition parties participating in the national dialogue, stressing that they have not been formally notified of the declaration.
He criticized the opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), saying it includes several political parties that seek to overthrow the regime by all means.
Meanwhile, the member of the 7+7 committee from the opposition side, Fadl al-Sid Shuaib, disclosed in press statements on Thursday that the committee agreed to select 15 members to the national dialogue General Secretariat and 50 others to the general convention equally from government and opposition parties.
Last 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 discuss constitutional reforms.
The NCF, gathering left forces, boycotted the political roundtable, asking the government to first to stop war and create a conducive environment for the dialogue.
Opposition forces participating in the dialogue are also raising the same concerns but argue that such matters can be discussed within the national dialogue mechanism.
Al-Mahdi was very supportive to the dialogue process proposed by the Sudanese president. But, the NUP suspended its participation in May after Mahdi’s arrest over criticism of government militia.
He now demands the restoration of political freedoms and inclusion of rebel groups in the political process. However, he calls for exclusion of the small political forces at this stage and involving only the “six historical parties”.
Earlier this month, he signed a joint political declaration with the SRF in Paris where they call for unifying political opposition forces over peace and democratic reforms.