January 21, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s opposition National Umma Party (NUP) said it would hold a mass reception for its leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi who will return to the country on Thursday afternoon pointing the celebration venue will be determined later.
- A poster released by the NUP, part of a campaign to mobilize suppoters to receive al-Mahdi when he returns on 26 January 2017
The NUP leader left the country in August 2014 after a month in jail over remarks he made against the government militia known as the Rapid Support Force (RSF).
Since, he has remained abroad based in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. The Sudanese president vowed to arrest him after the signing of Paris Declaration with the Sudanese rebel groups in Paris on 8 August 2014.
Last October, he decided to end his self-imposed exile and return to the country on 19 December, citing the need to be with his party and to fix some internal problems.
However, he delayed his return to 26 January in order to not disturb the general strike which was held on 19 December.
On Friday, NUP accused the Sudanese authorities of seeking to obstruct the popular reception of al-Mahdi by organizing a celebration on the anniversary of the liberation of Khartoum from the Turkish rule in the same venue where al-Mahdi’s reception was planned to take place.
However, Commissioner of Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman Magdi Abdel-Aziz on Saturday said they continued to celebrate the liberation of Khartoum annually, pointing they held last year’s celebration in the same venue.
For her part, NUP Deputy Chairman Maryam al-Mahdi said the government continued to ignore historic and national gains for 27 years, describing the attempt to hinder al-Mahdi’s reception as “higher government policy”.
Al-Mahdi was at the head of the democratic government that was overthrown by a military coup led by General Omer al-Bashir in June 1989.