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Sudan’s ruling NCP open for dialogue with opposition: official

April 7, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said today it is open to dialogue with the opposition on the condition that it abandons regime change goal, an official said today.

Farouk Abu Essa, head of the Sudan’s opposition umbrella known as the National Consensus Forces (NCF)

Mustafa Osman Ismail, an adviser to Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir, said that his party is not prepared to engage with parties that want to topple the government.

"We will not talk to parties seeking to change the regime," Ismail said at the Sayed Ahmed Khalifa forum in Khartoum.

Ismail said that the NCP does not want to craft the new constitution alone but that the current opposition boycott means that his party cannot wait indefinitely for them to change their minds and participate.

He acknowledged that the country is going through difficult economic and political times which Ismail said requires the government and opposition alike to act responsibly.

NCP SPLIT DENIED

The presidential adviser addressed the issue of reform memos circulating within the NCP and stressed that the party has taken steps to act on them by implementing structural and policy changes. But he dismissed any talk about divisions or defections in the NCP.

"Whoever thinks that a split will occur within the National Congress [Party] needs to think again," Ismail said.

He also denied that general response to mobilisation call made by president al-Bashir last month for people to join the Popular Defense Forces (PDF) was below expectations. Contrary to that, he said that the response was so overwhelming that they had little capacity to take them all.

The mobilisation of the paramilitary brigades came in the wake of military clashes on Sudan’s borders mainly with rebels from the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) active in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Khartoum routinely accuses Juba of backing the rebels whose stated goal is regime change.

OPPOSITION AIM "TO END CONFLICT"

Farouk Abu Essa, the head of the opposition umbrella known as the National Consensus Forces (NCF), said at the same forum that their main focus is ending Sudan’s civil wars and saving what is left of the country after South Sudan seceded.

Abu Essa said that tomorrow’s meeting between opposition leaders will freeze all agendas and discuss the multiple conflicts raging in Sudan and how to find resolutions.

He did not say whether the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi will be in the meeting. The opposition leader has in recent months become fiercely critical of the NCF over its goal of regime change which he says is unrealistic.

The NCF chief said that the only solution out of the country’s problems is a roundtable for all political powers to agree on a national coalition government that would oversee writing a permanent constitution and work on bringing peace back to Sudan.

He dismissed the NCP’s recent suggestion that it could hold early elections saying that environment is not conducive for that just as it was in April 2010 when the last general elections took place among boycotts from most parties.

Abu Essa warned that should the NCP keep stonewalling on the roundtable then they will continue pursuing regime change.

(ST)