Home | News    Wednesday 7 October 2015

DUP & NUP leaders will not attend Sudan’s national dialogue opening conference

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October 6, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and his counterpart in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani will not participate in the opening session of the long-awaited national dialogue conference scheduled for next Saturday.

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NUP leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi (C) talking to Presidential Assistant Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid (L) & NCP Political Sector Chief Mustafa Osman Ismail (R) in a meeting held in Cairo on 6 October 2015 (ST Photo)

Both al-Mahdi and al-Mirghani have been living abroad for more than a year with the former facing the threat of prosecution over an accord he signed with Sudanese insurgents which drew the irk of president Omer Hassan al-Bashir who made personal threats against him unless he dissociates himself from it.

But the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) chaired by Bashir eventually softened its stance towards al-Mahdi and sought to have him return home while dropping the threat of filing criminal charges against him.

The Sudanese president has issued a general amnesty to members of rebel groups and sought to assure them their safety in order to participate in the national dialogue initiative he kicked off in January 2014.

On Tuesday, Bashir’s presidential assistants Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid and Abdel-Rahman al-Sadiq al-Mahdi along with NCP political sector chief Mustafa Osman Ismail arrived in Cairo to meet with the NUP leader in a bid to convince him to attend the dialogue conference on Saturday.

But the NUP swiftly issued a statement on Tuesday night affirming its boycott of the conference saying “it does not represent us because it is a dialogue between the regime and its allies that it is inconsistent with the dialogue requirements that we are seeking and the regime’s recent actions prove its lack of seriousness” in reference to shutting down newspapers and cracking down on political activities and figures.

It emphasized that a pre-dialogue meeting must be held in Addis Ababa as agreed by the African Union (AU) before moving to a full blown national dialogue conference with the participation of all parties and rebels.

The statement pointed out that the NCP is more interested in bilateral agreements which quickly collapse and called on the NCP to prove its seriousness by stopping the war, opening safe corridors for humanitarian aid, releasing political detainees, ending political restrictions and providing the necessary guarantees to implementing the outcome of the dialogue.

It underscored that anything that deviates from these principles “is a waste of time and money”.

Al-Mahdi’s party withdrew from the dialogue last year after its leader’s one-month arrest along with the Reform Now Party (RNM) while leftist parties and rebel groups declined to join from the start.

Bashir’s envoys in Cairo held lengthy talks with al-Mahdi and are awaiting a final response from him.

They were set to meet again for dinner at the residence of the Sudanese ambassador in Cairo Abdel-Mahmood Abdel-Haleem who told pro-government Ashorooq TV that he cannot guarantee that the NUP will respond positively to Bashir’s invitation.

DUP DIVIDED OVER DIALOGUE

On Tuesday evening, the DUP chief’s son who is also the party’s organizational officer Mohamed al-Hassan al-Mirghani held a meeting on Tuesday evening with the DUP national dialogue committee in which it endorsed its vision for the process which officially starts this week.

But a competing statement by the DUP spokesman Ibrahim al-Mirghani released late on Tuesday declared that the party has nothing to do with the national dialogue conference and that the DUP chairman will not be part of it.

It further asserted the DUP’s commitment to a separate initiative made previously by Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani on national reconciliation.

The deputy DUP spokesman Mohamed Sayed Ahmed Sir al-Khatim said that the differing attitudes within the party toward national dialogue is an extension of the conflict between the party factions.

Al-Khatim told Sudan Tribune that any dialogue without the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the NUP will be the "dialogue of the deaf" because the rebels will continue to be outside the dialogue umbrella.

He stressed that the regime which is responsible for igniting the war cannot chair and oversee the dialogue and that another mechanism needs to be instituted similar to the one that lead to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between north and now South Sudan.

The DUP official added that any dialogue without the international community will yield "zero results" saying that the results of the dialogue as it stands now are known in advance and will include parties "that ate and drank in the confines of the regime".

"Is the NCP conducting dialogue with its partners in government? Mohammed al-Hassan al-Mirghani and al-Digair and Nahar and the others are all part of the government .. it will be more useful to have dialogue with arms bearers," he added.

Mohamed al-Hassan al-Mirghani have become the DUP de-facto leader amid reports that his father currently residing in London is suffering from some form of dementia.

His son, who has not been politically active throughout the DUP history, made a move to fill the void left by his father’s absence and orchestrated the party’s participation in the general elections of last April despite stiff opposition from senior DUP figures.

In what appeared to be a rebellion, dozens of these figures sought to move the courts to nullify the DUP participation in the elections on the grounds that al-Hassan has no authority or capacity within the party to be its representative before the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Al-Hassan retaliated and fired 17 DUP of the dissenting figures in early March. But last August his father issued a statement stressing that he has not sacked any party member and distanced himself from this move.

But al-Hassan dismissed the statement as fabricated and suggested that DUP spokesperson Ibrahim al-Mirghani forged it. He insisted that the expulsion order stand before succumbing to his father’s directives.

The discord between the house of al-Mirghani and other senior DUP figures has grown more public in recent years with the latter accusing the former of turning the party into a chapter of the ruling NCP.

The DUP left opposition ranks and joined the “broad-based” government of the NCP in December 2011, citing the “need to save the country” in the words of Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani himself.

The decision of one of Sudan’s biggest opposition parties to join the government has created a great deal of internal dissent that saw many members quitting in protest. The party received three ministries in the federal cabinet and continues to serve under this allocation.

(ST)

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