August 31, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the largest opposition party in Sudan has denied speculations that his recent meeting with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir was to negotiate terms by which he would join the government dominated by the National Congress Party (NCP).
Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party (NUP), emphasized that his party would not join the government unless a new political regime is put in place.
Al-Mahdi, who was delivering Friday prayer sermon, stressed that Sudan cannot overcome its current political stalemate unless a new system is found through the NUP’s “liberation ticket” campaign it launched more than a month ago.
The NUP says that the “liberation ticket” aims to free the country from tyranny and corruption and achieve complete democratic transformation, comprehensive and just peace through mobilization and sit-ins and any other means with the exception of violence.
The former Prime Minister defended that his recent meeting with Bashir stressing that it did not include any secret items and denied that the NUP will join the government, saying “for the thousandth time, I say, the NUP would only join the new regime which it had previously identified its components”.
He said that some people mentioned that his meeting with the president meant the failure of the “liberation ticket” campaign, but he reiterated that this will continue until its goals are achieved.
Al-Mahdi added that political forces should welcome the outcome of his meeting with Bashir which reached an agreement on three national issues including peace, constitution, and governance.
The NUP chief further pointed that in spite of their rejection to join the government, they will not refrain from participating in all national issues, saying that when the US hit Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory the NUP condemned the attack and said that it will negatively affect the opposition work.
Al-Mahdi called on the government to recognize the rebel Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) on the condition that the latter denounces violence and declares its commitment to the unity of Sudan’s territory.
Prior to Mahdi-Bashir summit, several opposition figures appeared critical of the NUP leader and suggested that he is trying to play on both sides of the aisle.
The representative of the Baath party within the National Consesus Forces (NCF) Fathi Nuri al-Abbas said the NUP is flirting with the NCP to use as a card with the opposition and the government.
“We have launched the opposition’s 100-day plan, but the plan failed because of the NUP which launched similar scheme in a unique tune with the ruling power,” he said,
The NUP leader has made sure to distance his party from last year’s demonstrations that broke out in response to the government’s rollout of austerity measures in response to growing economic pressures caused by the secession of the oil-rich South Sudan.
Last June, al-Mahdi said he does not approve of the 100-day plan to oust the regime announced by the NCF even though al-Basha said he took part in formulating the scheme.
The PCP Political Secretary General Kamal Omer, told Sudan Tribune this week that al-Mahdi did not learn from his past experiences with the NCP that always let him down.
Omer asserted that the NCP is seeking to reach out to opposition parties to “break its isolation“ which he said was caused by recent floods and growing economic discontent.
Meanwhile, the NCP said that its dialogue with the political forces will continue without excluding any political party, pointing to the president Bashir’s comprehensive vision for reform.
According to Sudan’s official news agency (SUNA), the NCP’s secretary for external relations, Ibrahim Ghandour, called upon all political forces to agree on national principles, saying that even if we don’t agree on how to execute those principles, we should not disagree on them as principles.
He stressed that most political forces in Sudan share common principles which makes dialogue and agreement among them possible in spite of their differences.
The opposition parties insist that they would not take part in a national dialogue conference unless the ruling NCP accepts to leave power and form interim institutions.
But the government refuses the demands of the opposition saying there is no need for a transitional regime as the president and the parliament are elected in the general election held in April 2010 that were monitored and certified by regional and international observers.