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Opposition leader al-Mahdi return to Sudan, proposes new social contract

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Al-Mahdi waves hand to his supporters after his arrival in Khartoum on 19 Dec 2018
December 19, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Sadiq al-Mahdi, returned to Sudan on Wednesday ending a ten-month self-imposed exile, but his call for a new social contract dismayed the party youth members.

Al-Mahdi, 83, was received at the Khartoum Airport by the NUP leadership members and the political secretary of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Abdel Rahman al-Khider.

His arrival coincided with the demonstrations across the country against the bread shortages and the deteriorating economic situation.

However, in a speech delivered to his supporters in a rally in Omdurman, the leader of the Sudan Call alliance called for the commitment of the warring parties to a ceasefire, to facilitate humanitarian access to the civilians in the rebel-controlled zones, to release political detainees and prisoners and prisoners and to ensure freedoms.

He added that a national unity government can be formed after these confidence-building measures to discuss a new social contract in Sudan.

He went further to propose to draft a petition including these steps to be signed by all the Sudanese and to hand it over collectively to President Omer al-Bashir.

Al-Mahdi arrived in Khartoum from Addis Ababa, after the failure of a meeting with the African Union mediator who refused to meet them as the representatives of the Sudan Call alliance to discuss ways to update a roadmap agreement for peace in Sudan signed in August 2016.

The opposition groups were angered by the rejection of the chief mediator and vowed to work to find other peaceful means to express their position for a genuine democratic change in Sudan.

However, several NUP youth members, posted on individual basis messages in the social media suspending their membership in the party to protest al-Mahdi’s proposal.

They said they were expecting him to support the popular protests in Sudan and to call for popular mobilization against the regime.

The Sudanese government and the ruling party issued statements welcoming al-Mahdi’s return to Sudan.

Also, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front led by Malik Agar (SRF-Agar) welcomed the return of the Sudan Call leader and expressed hope he would work to reunite the opposition groups and to coordinate peaceful protests against the regime’s erroneous policies.

(ST)

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