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Sudan bans opposition parties from meeting rebels in Geneva

July 14, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese authorities have prevented representatives of opposition parties from travelling to Geneva on Sunday to attend a meeting with Sudan’s rebel groups to discuss peaceful solutions for the conflicts in the country.

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Sudan’s main opposition parties sign documents requesting for democratic alternatives to the one-party rule at the Democratic Unionist Party headquarters in Omdurman, 4 July 2012 (REUTERS)

The Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD Centre) which seeks to foster political dialogue among the Sudanese political forces organised last March a meeting between the ruling National Congress Party and the opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF).

A second meeting was scheduled in Geneva on Monday 15 July for Sudan’s opposition parties and the groups with constitute the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance. The Sudanese government and the NCP gave the green light for this meeting because it encourages political and peaceful solutions.

An official of the HD Centre recently told Sudan Tribune that their demarche aims to promote a negotiated settlement of the ongoing conflicts in Sudan, adding they are not concerned by calls made here or there to topple the regime of president Omer Al-Bashir.

However, security services at Khartoum Airport arrested a number of opposition members on Sunday and prevented them from departing to Geneva.

Among the arrested is NCF spokesperson Kamal Omer who is also a leading member of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Abdel-Jalil Basha of Umma National Party, Ibrahim Al-Sheikh leader of the Sudanese Congress Party and Sidiq Youssef of the Sudanese Communist Party.

Speaking to the press following their release on Sunday, Basha stated that they were banned from travelling to Geneva to take part in a dialogue organised by the HD Centre. He further stressed that this meeting comes in the framework of peaceful transition towards a democratic regime in Sudan.

He further pointed out that this ban is directed against peaceful efforts to end the different conflicts, adding that the ruling NCP participated in this dialogue in a meeting organised in Khartoum last March.

The Sudanese government called on the opposition parties to participate in consultations aiming to prepare a new constitution after the secession of South Sudan but refuses their call for a interim government tasked to hold a national conference and to prepare for new elections.

While the rebel groups agreed on the secular character of the new constitution, the opposition parties diverge over this point as the PCP of Hassan Al-Turabi believes that the next constitution should be Islamic.

The ban may compromise the meeting and push the organisers to postpone it despite the arrival of delegates from the SRF rebel groups to Geneva.

But NCF spokesperson, Kamal Omer said they are considering to mandate NCF chairman Faroq Abu Eissa and the leader of the Islamic Wasat Party Yousif Al-Koda to represent them in the three day dialogue meeting with the rebels.

Abu Eissa and Al-Koda who are in Cairo since are due to fly to Geneva on Monday, Sudan Tribune has learnt.

Observers in Khartoum said that the ban may aim to prevent any parallel discussions between the rebels and the opposition parties on the sidelines of the meeting.

The NCF leader Abu Eissa announced last June a 100-day plan to bring down the regime peacefully. He also described the SRF rebels as strategic ally, but stressed on the non-violent character of their move.

The SPLM-N secretary general Yasir Arman recently called on the opposition forces to bypass opposition parties that are hesitant over the overthrow of the regime.

Arman was alluding to the Umma party of Sadiq Al-Mahdi who is hostile to the rebels’ strategy aiming to overthrow the regime by force, and calls for peaceful democratic transition in the country.

(ST)