January 18, 2017 (PARIS) - Leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi has re-assured his allies in the opposition umbrella Sudan Call to not hold any bilateral agreement between his party and the government, stressing commitment to address the root causes of the Sudanese crisis.
The veteran opposition leader is expected to return to Sudan on 26 January following a two-year self-imposed exile in Cairo.
He told Sudan Tribune in an interview on the sidelines of a press conference held at the French National Assembly in Paris on Wednesday that the NUP is “acting in a national not partisan manner”, saying his party considers itself a representative of the “Sudan party”.
Commenting on statements by the leading figure at the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Nafie Ali Nafie in which he expected the NUP and Darfur armed groups to join the peace process soon, al-Mahdi said: “The Sudanese government can wish of anything it wants but we have a clear stance … what is the reason for wars and divisions?… the reason for divisions in the Sudanese political body is the lack of democracy and the reason for wars is the existence of specific injustices”.
He stressed that any party who engages in a bilateral agreement with the government and abandons the call for reaching a comprehensive and just peace that addresses the causes of the problem and making full democratic transformation would only serve a “narrow partisan interest”.
Al-Mahdi further said the opposition seeks to remove the injustices and achieve democracy, stressing the NUP is strongly committed to resolve the root problem that caused the wars which is dictatorship.
“In my opinion, any solution that is based on the removal of the causes of conflicts, fighting and dictatorship would be accepted by all [parties] and we will work to achieve this solution which would yield national support,” he said.
During the past two years, al-Mahdi worked tirelessly to win the confidence of the armed groups and to bring them together with the other opposition groups in the Sudan Call alliance to accept the idea of a comprehensive national solution.
The government and Sudan Call forces (the armed groups, NUP, Sudanese Congress Party and other political groups) signed in March and August 2016 the Roadmap Agreement brokered by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) including several steps towards their participation in a national constitutional process inside Sudan.
However, the parties failed to sign a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian agreements that are seen crucial before to move forward in the roadmap implementation process. However, the government maintained its plans, held a dialogue conference and adopted a National Document including constitutional reforms and release of freedoms.
Sudanese government and allies pointed that the holdout groups can sign the outcome of the dialogue process (National Document) and participate in its implementation through the National Concordance Government and transitional parliament. The move is seen by the opposition group as clear violation of the Roadmap.
U.S. ECONOMIC SANCTIONS
Meanwhile, al-Mahdi said the recent U.S. decision to ease sanctions imposed on Sudan would help the opposition achieve its goals pertaining to democratic transformation and in particular the Roadmap.
Last Friday, President Obama signed an executive order suspending sanctions against Sudan enabling trade and investment transactions to resume with the east African nation. The move comes in recognition of Sudan’s collaboration to curtail terrorism, and its efforts to improve humanitarian access.
Al-Mahdi pointed that Washington has appointed itself as watchman on the government behavior regarding the five tracks that constituted the bases of dialogue between the two sides, describing Obama’s decision as “certificate of good conduct for the Sudanese regime”.
It is noteworthy that Khartoum and Washington said they have engaged in a five-track dialogue process including the fight against terrorism, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Sudan’s role in the peace process in South Sudan, Sudan’s peace and the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Al-Mahdi told Sudan Tribune that he demanded Washington to include issues pertaining to the political solution and human rights to the five-tracks, saying the move would help the Sudanese achieve democratic evolution and the Roadmap.