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Sudan opposition party rejects ex-vice president’s call for dialogue

April 1, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s opposition Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP) has rejected a request to meet with the former first vice-president, Ali Osman Taha, saying it will not engage in the national dialogue without creating the appropriate environment for it.

Ali Osman Mohamed Taha (ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)

SCoP described the government’s call for dialogue as an attempt to divide the opposition front and weaken Sudanese people struggle for change.

The party’s spokesperson, Abu-Bakr Youssef, said in a press release on Tuesday that they had previously declined to meet with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to discuss national issues, noting that the regime continues to curtail media and political freedoms.

He pointed to the pre-printing censorship and confiscation of newspapers and said the regime seeks to achieve tribal-based partial solutions for Sudan’s problems, pointing to the recent Um-Jaras forum on peace and security in Darfur.

The statement also disclosed that the head of the parliamentary subcommittee on economics, Salim al-Safi, told the SCoP chairman, Ibrahim al-Sheikh, that the parliament formed a committee to hold dialogue with the SCoP, saying that al-Sheikh declined to accept the invitation because the government did not meet SCoP conditions for engaging in the dialogue.

In a televised address to the nation late last January, Sudanese leader Omer Hassan al-Bashir announced a four-point plan for reform “to stop the war and bring peace, free political society, fight against poverty and revitalise national identity”.

He further called for political forces and even rebel groups should they lay down arms to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items to achieve these objectives.

Bashir afterwards met with several opposition leaders, but it is not yet clear how the dialogue call will be implemented amid deep skepticism over the willingness of the NCP to implement deep reforms.

So far NCP officials, including Bashir, have brushed aside opposition calls for the 2015 elections to be delayed and the formation of a transitional government that would work on drafting a new constitution to prepare the country for the polls.

The opposition National Umma Party (NUP) and the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) are the only major opposition parties who have so far accepted Bashir’s call for national dialogue.

But both parties warned that they would pull out of dialogue with the NCP if no progress is made.

(ST)