Sudan’s Bashir meets dialogue body, lifts ban on opposition newspaper
October 16, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir on Thursday decided to lift a ban the security service imposed this week on al-Saiha, a newspaper owned by his uncle al-Tayeb Mustafa who is also the chairman of the opposition Just Peace Forum (JPF) party.
Al-Bashir on Thursday evening met with the national dialogue high committee ahead of a general assembly meeting scheduled for Sunday to discuss the ongoing preparations of the internal process which suffered delay recently.
The leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party, Hassan al-Turabi, the chairman of the Reform Now Movement, Ghazi Salah Eddin al Attabani, and presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour were among those who attended the meeting.
The members of the 7+7 committee briefed the president on the steps taken to launch the national dialogue and discussed with him the agenda of Sunday’s meeting as well as the upcoming talks with the rebel groups on the cessation of hostilities.
The 7+7 committee’s co-spokesperson from the opposition side, Fadel Alseed Shuaib, announced following the meeting that the national dialogue is expected to be launched by the end of October.
“In order to ensure the freedom of expression, the meeting decided to lift the ban on al-Saiha newspaper and discussed a number of positive steps that push the dialogue forward,” Shuaib said.
He went further to emphasise that the national dialogue will take place and conclude its works before the general election, hoping “to reach an agreement on the elections (postponement) and other issues related to (national) identity, freedoms and external relations”.
Opposition parties, even those who are part of the process, expressed recently frustration and concern about the poor implementation of confidence building measures, and delay of talks with the rebels who are supposed to join the process, coupled with the persistent government refusal to postpone next year elections.
Information minister and 7+7 committee’s co-spokesperson, Ahmed al-Balal, said the meeting endorsed the agenda of the second general assembly including a demand to “grant more powers to the national dialogue higher committee to achieve the details and to name 50-member committee”.
Balal further said the dialogue was delayed due to the trip of president Bashir to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj and his visit on Saturday to the neighbouring Egypt. He also disclosed the visit of the Libyan prime minister to Sudan on 28 October.
EU CALLS TO ACCELERATE NATIONAL DIALOGUE
European Union special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Alexander Rondos, on Thursday discussed with Ghandour and foreign minister Ali Karti bilateral relations and the implementation of the national dialogue process.
Following the meetings, EU ambassador Tomas Ulicny, issued a statement saying the two parties discussed the importance of a political European – Sudanese dialogue and how to make humanitarian and development cooperation more effective.
“We called on Sudan to step up the national dialogue and reconciliation processes, strengthen the protection of human rights and to achieve stability to build peace in the Horn of Africa,” Ulicny said.
Rondos headed a big EU delegation that attended the regional conference on human trafficking hosted by Sudan.
The European Union expressed several times its support to the national dialogue which aims to bring peace and achieve democratic reforms, and pledged to support Sudan’s efforts to cancel its foreign debit if the process reach the desired goals.