Monday, June 30, 2014

Sudan opposition forces alarmed over remarks by President Bashir

Sudan’s opposition parties which agreed to participate in the national dialogue have expressed resentment over statements made by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir recently regarding the dialogue process and general elections.
In a speech before the members of the Shura (consultative) Council of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Thursday, Bashir said his government’s adherence to national dialogue does not stem from weakness, underscoring that next year general elections will be held as scheduled without delay.

He further slammed NCP officials who spoke of a possible postponement of the electoral process in case a political agreement is reached with opposition forces in the context of the national dialogue. An informed source told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the opposition participants in the national dialogue will hold a meeting to discuss Bashir’s remarks and take a final decision on whether to continue or not, noting that Bashir’s statements were disappointing. The same source did not rule out that some opposition parties might nonetheless decide to carry on even if other opposition forces decided to boycott it. It further disclosed that opposition parties participating in the dialogue approved in a meeting held on Wednesday the formation of a broad front, including political parties and national figures, to discuss the Sudanese crisis that is threatening the existence of the country.

The opposition parties have demanded a meeting with Bashir more than two weeks ago but the government has yet to respond to their request. Last week, Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour disclosed that Bashir, will meet with these political forces in the next few days to discuss ways for pushing forward the process The National Umma Party (NUP) and the Reform Now Party (RNP) suspended participation in the dialogue process to protest arrest of the former’s leader, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and what they said was a government crackdown on political and media liberties. However, the Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan al-Turabi has previously rejected calls to boycott the dialogue despite acknowledging recent crackdown by the government. Al-Mahdi described in press statements on Thursday the government officials’ linkage between dialogue and elections as “pointless”, calling o the government to choose between a dialogue which is accepted by all Sudanese people or popular uprising.

Meanwhile, Ghandour asserted some political forces misinterpreted the NCP’s call for national dialogue, saying their call did not stem from a position of weakness but a conviction for uniting the national front. Ghandour, who addressed the NCP conference at Khartoum locality on Friday, called on the political forces not to adopt a tactical approach in dealing with the president’s call for national dialogue, noting his party’s call for dialogue came at a time when the opposition forces and armed groups are at their weakest situation. At the end of January, Bashir launched the national dialogue initiative aiming to hold an comprehensive conference on a new constitution and ways to end the armed conflicts in the Two Areas and Darfur. He also issued a number of presidential decrees to ensure freedom of expression, press freedom and create a conducive environment for this political process. However, the security service last May arrested al-Mahdi for criticising a government militia, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and accusing it of committing war crimes in Darfur and South Kordofan.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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