October 9, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The procedural session of Sudan’s National Dialogue Conference on Sunday has approved the national document which would constitute the basis for drafting the country’s permanent constitution.
- Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir listen to the National anthem during opening session of Sudan National Dialogue conference October 10, 2015 (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
The document was signed by leaders of political parties and armed groups participating in the dialogue, while additional political parties are expected to endorse the document ahead of the final session on Monday.
Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir, who chaired the procedural session, said the national document reflects the will of the Sudanese people and serves as basis to govern the country.
He welcomed the Future Forces of Change (FFC), the National Forces Alliance (NFA) and the sacked figure of the National Umma Party (NUP) Mubarak al-Mahdi for joining the dialogue conference.
The Sudanese president stressed that the national document has expressed views and aspirations of all political forces including the opposition, adding the “door will remain open for anyone who wishes to join it”.
He further pointed that the consensus of the Sudanese political forces would shut the door on those whom he called the “conspirators” who target the country through war, economic sanctions and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In January 2014, al-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.
Launched on 10 October 2015 for three months, the dialogue process was initially expected to wind up in January 2016 but it was delayed until October 10th.
Rebel groups and opposition parties refuse to join Khartoum process as they demand the government to end war and ensure freedoms in the country before. However, the U.S. backed talks brokered by the African Union are deadlocked, over the confidence building measures.
PHONE CONVERSATION WITH AL-MAHDI
Meanwhile, al-Bashir on Sunday disclosed that he had a phone conversation with Sadiq al-Mahdi the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) in which he urged him to join the government-led national dialogue.
In his address before the procedural session on Sunday, al-Bashir said he spoke with al-Mahdi just moments before the outset of the session, noting he told him that “your natural place should be among the participants in the dialogue”.
This phone conversation is considered the first of its kind since al-Mahdi left the country in August 2014 after he suspended his participation in the dialogue and forged a new alliance with the armed opposition Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF).
At the time, al-Bashir vowed to try al-Mahdi, who has been based in Cairo since, once he returns to Sudan unless he disavows his alliance with the SRF.
Also, the National Dialogue Secretary General Hashim Ali Salim on Sunday said al-Mahdi sent a letter to the general secretariat in which he underscored that if recommendations of the dialogue were implemented smoothly, they would pave the road for drafting a national constitution and establishing a national rule.
According to Salim, al-Mahdi pointed that Sudan is in dire need to stop the war and achieve peace.
Salim added that he responded to al-Mahdi’s letter by saying “your seat [in the dialogue] is vacant and there is no reason for you to be away”.
NUP CRITICISES DIALOGUE CONFERENCE
In the same context, the NUP has criticized the dialogue conference saying it was dominated by the ruling party and its chairman.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Sunday, the NUP said that al-Bashir had previously agreed with them that no single party should have the right to decide on national issues including dialogue, peace and governance or isolate others.
It criticized al-Bashir’s personal dominance over the dialogue’s podium and sessions besides the works of the committees, saying the dialogue has turned into a “monologue”.
The statement described the national dialogue conference as “missing opportunity” and “mere play” that would bring nothing new, saying the NUP has nothing to do with this dialogue.
The NUP reiterated the call to hold a genuine dialogue preparatory meeting, saying dialogue must start by stopping the war, delivering humanitarian assistance, allowing freedoms and releasing political detainees and convicts and then coming together in a forum that is not controlled by any party.
The statement further described the dialogue conference as a meeting between the government and its allies, saying the political and armed opposition will never join such a dialogue.