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Sudan Tribune

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Political debate in Juba turns into trial on UMMA and PCP leaders

By James Gatdet Dak

September 29, 2009 (JUBA) – A joint special political debate on Monday involving the three main political parties to the Juba conference that discusses the future of Sudan turned into trial when the participants launched accusations against the former leaders of the country.

The debate which was also open to the public to observe included the SPLM, UMMA and PCP political parties.

The forum was organized by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the Southern Sudan parliament and hosted both Mr. Sadiq Al-Mahdi, Chairman of the UMMA party and former Prime Minister of Sudan, and Dr. Hassan Al-Turabi, leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and former Speaker of the National Assembly.

It was chaired by the Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan and Deputy Chairperson of the SPLM, Dr. Riek Machar Teny.

The panel which was supposed to chart the way forward and create harmony between northern and southern political divides witnessed a dramatic turn when Southern Sudanese politicians launched attacks on the former northern Sudanese leaders condemning their past policies against the South.

The heated atmosphere that looked like a trial left both Dr. Al-Turabi and Mr. Al-Mahdi with no any other option but to defend their past actions with less focus on the policies they currently wanted to sell to the people of Southern Sudan.

They both denied any direct responsibility for any negative policies that befell the Sudanese people and particularly in the South during their respective reigns.

Most of the participants that spoke expressed that it would be wise for the political parties’ conference in Juba to focus on their contribution to formulation of a fair referendum law and how to build a future neighborhood relations between North and South Sudan, arguing that the South had already decided to opt for independence.

They also said that it was too late to make unity attractive within the remaining 14 months to the referendum.

Al-Mahdi’s regime fought in the South between 1986 and 1989 which witnessed massacres in the region before it was ousted by the incumbent President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir in a bloodless coup.

Dr. Al-Turabi was believed to be the chief architect of the Islamic ideology pursued by a number of successive regimes in Khartoum including the current one under which he served as the Speaker of the National Assembly before falling a part with Al-Bashir in 1999.

Both leaders are currently heading their respective political parties to the Juba ‘All Sudanese Political Parties’ Conference’ which began on Sunday and expected to end on Wednesday.

(ST)