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Sudan’s dialogue body to request pardon for political prisoners

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December 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s national dialogue committee expected to issue a plea to president Omer Hassan al-Bashir to pardon the political detainees and also demand him set a firm date to begin the dialogue.

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Sudan’s national dialogue 7+7 committee (Ashorooq TV)

The committee known as 7+7 will meet on Sunday to discuss recent developments in the dialogue process amid growing frustration in the ranks of opposition parties participating in the process due to failure to make any breakthrough on issues under discussion.

The co-spokesperson of the 7+7 committee, Fadl al-Sid Shuaib, disclosed they will meet with Bashir to push forward the dialogue process, stressing the meeting will seek to resolve the national issues.

He told the pro-government Sudan Media Center (SMC) that the committee’s meeting on Sunday will set a definitive date to commence the comprehensive national dialogue.

A member of the dialogue committee told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the delay of the dialogue process was caused by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), accusing the latter of being preoccupied with the preparations for the general elections.

He pointed to the alarming deterioration in freedoms and the violation of a roadmap approved by the dialogue’s general assembly, calling for allowing political freedoms and stopping arrests.

However the source, which is not authorised to talk to the press, ruled out that any opposition forces participating in the dialogue could withdraw from the process.

He said the committee intends to submit a report to Bashir regarding the situation of the detainees and demand him to remove the extraordinary measures and create an atmosphere conducive for dialogue.

On 15 December, the Sudanese political parties participating in the government-led national dialogue process harshly criticised the government and the NCP holding the latter responsible for the delay of the dialogue process.

Earlier this month, Sudanese security arrested the chairman of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), Farouk Abu Issa, and a prominent rights defender, Amin Maki Madani, after their return from Addis Ababa where they signed the Sudan Call with rebel groups.

Addressing the national dialogue’s general assembly last month, Bashir said, the kick-off of the internal political process would not exceed the end of November, and should take a period between one to three months. He further indicated that its outcome will form a doable road map.

Shuaib said the committee will ask Bashir to pardon the political detainees on the occasion of the Independence Day celebrations in order to create climate conducive for national dialogue.

Meanwhile, Shuaib pointed to intensive efforts made by the dialogue’s body on creating environment conducive for dialogue to contact rebel groups which refused to engage in the dialogue and urge them to join the process.

He pointed the 7+7 committee’s upcoming meeting will discuss several issues including reports of the subcommittees, selection of the national figures and the general secretariat of the national dialogue, general elections and the amendment of the constitution.

Bashir launched a national dialogue initiative last January in which he urged opposition parties and rebels alike to join the dialogue table to discuss all the pressing issues.

But the initiative faced serious setback after the refusal of rebel groups and opposition parties to join the dialogue before to create a conducive environment and implement confidence building measures including release of political detainees and respect of political freedoms.

(ST)

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