January 26, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese opposition leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi, returned to the Sudanese capital Thursday where he vowed to resign and to quit the party. Also, he described as "reasonable" the American proposal for humanitarian access to the Two Areas.
Al-Mahdi was received at Khartoum airport by his son and Presidential Assistant Abdel-Rahman al-Madhi and the Minister of Federal Government Faisal Hassan Ibrahim. Nonetheless, the Sudanese authorities prevented the independent media from covering his reception.
However, the official Sudan TV covered the return of the national figure after more than two year to the country and broadcasted a statement where he says he looks forward for a serious and inclusive dialogue to reach a comprehensive solution for Sudan problems.
Leaders of the opposition forces particularly his internal allies of the Sudan Call forces inside the country and Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Attabani, the leader of the opposition of the Future Forces of Change alliance were there to receive him.
Addressing thousands of his supporters at Alhijrah square in Omdurman, the opposition leader said he returns to the country as national figure not a leader for the National Umma Party (NUP).
He further stressed that his absence from Sudan since August 2014 had been to unite the opposition groups around his call for a negotiated solution without violence, pointing that he and the other opposition forces are not concerned by the outcome of the National Dialogue Conference held last October in Khartoum.
The opposition leader reiterated that he would continue to work for the inclusive and comprehensive solution and would not accept partial deals with the regime of President Omer al-Bashir.
Al-Mahdi was a backer for the internal national dialogue process as means to end war and to achieve democratic reforms in the Sudan. In the past, he repeated that al-Bashir espoused his idea of national dialogue and welcomed The presidential call for an inclusive process by the end of 2013.
However, six months later he was arrested over statements denouncing war crimes committed by the government militia Rapid Support Forces and remained in jail for a month.
Since, his party has suspended its participation and in early August of 2014 he flied to the French capital to sign the Paris Declaration with the armed groups providing their readiness for a national constitutional dialogue to achieve peace and democratic transition.
READY TO RESIGN
The 82-year-old politician, announced his willingness to give up the chairpersonship of the party and retire from politics. However, he said his resignation depends on a general conference the party should hold but he didn’t give a date.
The opposition leader said some people blamed his long-time party leadership since 1964, but he underlined that during the past 53 years he had been almost in jail, exile or sentenced to death and the party had been banned.
However, he disclosed that he proposed to re-found the party for the fourth time, adding that the 4th reestablishment would achieve a progressive change and bring to young generations to the leadership, but also new political orientations.
He said that a workshop will mull over this institutional reform of the party and submit its conclusions to the 8th general conference of the party. Here also he didn’t specify a date for the process.
To explain his decision to return to Sudan, the self-exiled leader pointed several month ago to the need to restructure the party and resolve a number of internal issues.
AMERICAN HUMANITARIAN PROPOSAL
In his speech about the recent political developments, al-Mahdi termed as ’’reasonable" a proposal by the U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth that the USAID will transport humanitarian medical assistance directly to the rebel held areas in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan States after its inspection by the Sudanese authorities.
"With regard to the disagreement on the issue of humanitarian relief, the U.S. government has provided a reasonable opinion that the USAID be tasked with the delivery of the relief," he said.
He further said the parties can reach an agreement over the safe evacuation of the sick, wounded and dead as well as the exchange of prisoners of war under the supervision of the Red Cross through Ethiopia.
The SPLM-N demands 20% of the humanitarian aid be transported directly to the rebel areas through Asosa, an Ethiopian border town, but Khartoum rejected the claim saying the rebel would use it to transport arms and ammunition.
The rebel group in its response to the American proposal demanded to establish a safe humanitarian corridor to transport the sick and wounded of its militants.
Al-Mahdi in the past played an important role to convince the armed group to sign the Roadmap Agreement as they had refused it during four months.