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Sudan’s former PM renews calls for national government

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October 12, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ex-Prime Minister and leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, has reiterated calls for forming a national government to draft a new constitution for the country.

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Umma party leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi (BBC)

Addressing a symposium he organizes periodically at his house in Omdurman on Wednesday, Al-Mahdi said that achieving the new constitution must be formed by a national government or a government of technocrats as opposed to the current government which is dominated by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP)

The NUP leader said that Sudan’s current interim constitution – which was established in 2005 following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) - was tailored to suit the power-sharing portion of the CPA between the NCP and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of South Sudan which gained independence in July this year.

“Since its inception, we described it [the interim constitution] as riddled with holes like Swiss cheese,” Al-Mahdi said.

The veteran politician went on to say that the current constitution had failed to render unity attractive, achieve democratic transformation or just peace in Sudan, adding that a new constitution would extricate the country from its current crises in Darfur, Blue Nile, Abyei and South Kordofan.

“The current constitution is dysfunctional and must be buried,” he said, adding that it was necessary to agree on a new constitution that moves the country from the square of a single-party state to that of a national state.”

The renewal of Al-Mahdi’s calls for the formation of a national government comes shortly after his party this month formally announced the end of its talks with the NCP to join the new government it intends to form.

In announcing its decision to halt the talks, the NUP said it would resort to “civil disobedience” as a mean to oppose the government.

Parallel talks held between the NCP and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), another mainstream opposition party, has also failed to persuade the latter to join the government.

The DUP announced this month that its talks with the NCP on joining the government had reached a dead-end, with one of its members terming the NCP’s participation offer “a farce”

NCP’s attitude in dialogue with opposition criticized from within

Meanwhile, a senior NCP member has directed rare criticism at his party’s approach towards opposition parties.

Ibrahim Ahmad Omar, a member of the NCP’s leadership bureau and minister of science and technology, called on the party to reassess its attitude in the dialogue with opposition parties.

Omar, who made his remarks during the opening session of the NCP’s political conference in Khartoum on Wednesday, said that the party needs to devise a clear strategy in dealing with opposition parties.

“We must also determine whether our dialogue with the NUP and the DUP was clear and organized or was a dialogue of the deaf,” he said.

Omer was in charge of the NCP’s committee that conducted the dialogue with the DUP. According to media reports, he tabled a proposal to the DUP’s leader Al-Mirghani giving his party four federal ministries and two positions of a presidential assistant and a presidential adviser as well as other positions in the governments of states.

Opposition parties appear to be wary of joining the NCP’s government at a time when the party is facing increased dissent over worsening economic conditions and the conflicts which erupted recently in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

(ST)

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