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Sudan’s military participation in Yemen war “big mistake”: al-Mahdi

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Al-Mahdi, ridding a horse, waves hands to his supporters after his arrival to Sudan on 26 January 2017 (ST Photo)
March 1, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi has urged the government to pull out the Sudanese troops participating in the war in Yemen describing the move as “big mistake”.

Sudan participates with over 850 troops in the Saudi-led "Decisive Storm" coalition against the Iranian-allied Houthi militants in Yemen.

In an interview with the BBC Arabic TV on Tuesday, al-Mahdi said: “Sudan enjoys strong relations with the two conflicting parties and [therefore is qualified to] mediate to stop this sectarian war that would yield nothing but the destruction of Yemen and its people”.

“Sudan’s involvement in the war in Yemen is a very big mistake,” he added.

The veteran leader pointed that the warring parties in Yemen “feel they were embroiled [in this war] and we should assist to drive them out of this dilemma instead of participating in it”.

ROADMAP AGREEMENT AND DIALOGUE

Al-Mahdi also demanded President Omer al-Bashir to engage in a serious and comprehensive dialogue that is based on the Roadmap Agreement proposed by the African mediation in order to spare the country the danger of collapse.

“We are waiting for the African mediator Thabo Mbeki who will arrive in Khartoum earlier next month to tell him that we wouldn’t engage in any dialogue that is not based on Roadmap which he proposed,” he said.

The NUP leader denied reports that he intends to assume the post of Prime Minister in the upcoming government, describing it as “fake government”.

He said the upcoming premier would be nothing but a small employee at the presidency, stressing he wouldn’t assume any post unless being elected under a democratic constitution.

Last October, a national dialogue document, which is expected to be a base for a permanent constitution for Sudan, was signed in Khartoum by the ruling party and allied political forces. However, opposition and main rebel groups boycotted the government-led internal dialogue, calling to sign a humanitarian truce and holding a preparatory meeting abroad.

Last March, Sudanese government signed the Roadmap Agreement concocted by the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) in Addis Ababa. The opposition umbrella Sudan Call endorsed the document last August.

However, the government rejected the organisation of an inclusive national dialogue preparatory meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss the confidence building measures, saying a “strategic meeting” with the participation of the main opposition and rebel groups is enough.

Also, talks between the government and armed groups over the cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access failed to strike a deal on these two issues.

AL-BASHIR’S PRESIDENCY

Al-Mahdi also called into question the announcement made by al-Bashir in which he expressed intention to step down by 2020 and not to run for re-elections.

“Al-Bashir more than once stressed that he would not run but he breaks his promises every time,” he said.

“More important for me is to agree on a permanent constitution to determine how to rule the country on a democratic approach” he added.

In March 2012, al-Bashir said that he would not seek his re-election in April 2015 but he ran and won in an election that was boycotted by the major opposition parties.

Last August, he said “I’m not a dictator and I don’t want to cling to power. I won’t run for another term, my term will end by 2020 and I won’t be able to run again according to the constitution and the constitution won’t be amended”.

(ST)

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