October 23, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The President of the National Umma Party (NUP) has decided to end his self-imposed exile in Egypt and return to the county, adding that a committee will determine the date of his arrival to Khartoum.
- 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)
Sadiq al-Mahdi told The Egyptian Almasry Alyoum newspaper Sunday he had initially decided to return to Khartoum after the signing of a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access agreements between the government and his allied armed groups.
"I intended to go back with some of those who took up arms and I linked my return with the of cessation of hostilities process . but s since it didn’t take place now I consider returning not without the framework of cessation of hostilities or any other similar operations. (My return comes) in the context that I have popular and organizational responsibilities, and it is very important that I exercise it from inside the country, " he said.
Al-Mahdi left the country in August 2014 to meet the rebel leaders in Paris where he signed with them the Paris Declaration on 8 August. Since he resides in Cairo as the government was banning contacts with the rebel leaders.
In May 2014, the security service arrested al-Mahdi for criticizing human rights violations and war crimes committed by the government militias Rapid Support Forces in the war zones. Following what, the NUP suspended its participation in the dialogue process and demanded to ensure freedoms before to resume their participation in the internal process.
Al-Mahdi said a committee has been formed by the party to organize his return and to determine when he would return and all the needed arrangements in this respect.
He denied the need for guarantees or his fear of arrest if he returns, saying "there is no doubt that the regime regrets deeply my arrest, and all of them have expressed this regret. For us my arrest achieved political gains, thus it does not scare me . You can not threaten a fish by drowning," he stressed.
NUP leader added that the regime may opt for one of two attitudes. First to be friendly and consider my return as an olive branch, or to take a hostile stance seeing my return without agreement as a support for the confrontation. But I ignore what they will do and I do not expect any reassurances. I will go regardless of what the regime decides".
Sudanese government and armed groups failed last August to reach a cessation of hostilities and a humanitarian agreements before to engage in peace talks over the conflicts in the Two Areas and Darfur.
Al-Mahdi who serves as de facto leader of the Sudan Call alliance worked hard to get the needed guarantees from the mediation before to bring the armed groups to sign in August the Roadmap Agreement proposed since March 2016.
Besides the shaky negotiations between the government and armed groups, reports from Khartoum say al-Mahdi felt the need to return to organize the party and settle a number of organizational problems particularly that one raised by Mubarak al-Mahdi.