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Sudan’s opposition alliance downplays Bashir’s recent pledges

October 12, 2105 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s opposition alliance National Consensus Forces (NCF) has downplayed pledges made by president Omer al-Bashir to release political prisoners and allow freedom of political action considering it mere repetition of unfulfilled promises.

Leading members of the opposition alliance National Consensus Forces, from the right Sidiq Youssef, Mohamed Dia Eldin and Abu Bakr Youssef, speak in a press conference held in Khartoum on 12 October 2015 (ST Photo)

In his address before the opening session of the dialogue conference Saturday, Bashir instructed authorities across Sudan to enable the political parties and the civil society organizations to carry out their peaceful political activities without conditions.

He also directed the competent authorities to release any political prisoner who is not convicted in public or private right criminal charges, demanding media outlets and the press to promote the freedom of expression.

NCF leading figure, Mohamed Diaa al-Din, said in a press conference on Monday that Bashir’s speech has been portrayed as a new breakthrough, noting the latter made the same pledges in his speech before the dialogue meeting in January 2014 without being implemented on the ground.

He said the president’s directives are meant to support the government-led national dialogue meaning that holdout opposition won’t be allowed to carry out its activities.

“In fact, those [directives are nothing but] instructions to the security services to ban the holdout [political parties] but we will continue to do our political work despite and we are not going to stop,” he added.

Diaa al-Din pointed that no political prisoner has been released so far in spite of the president’s directive, saying that a member of the Arab Ba’ath Party (ABP) by the name of Babiker Musa who has been arrested weeks ago for painting anti-government slogans on the wall remains detained.

“The talk about releasing prisoners has nothing to substantiate it on the ground and this proves that the regime doesn’t respect its constitution,” he added.

He said the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has changed its strategy towards opposition activists in the recent weeks, pointing they returned to their old style of asking activists to report to their offices and keep them there for long hours before asking them to report to the office the next day.

The NCF official expressed hope that Sudanese opposition reaches a unified national position, pointing that efforts are underway to unify the opposition.
“If we fail to unify the opposition in one alliance, there will be no other option but to coordinate [our] efforts”, he said.

NCF leading figure Siddig Youssef for his part stressed adherence to the preconditions set by the opposition to engage in the dialogue on top of which is ending the war, pointing the government and the armed groups should sit together to develop a specific plan including the ceasefire arrangements and a demilitarized zone.

He announced that the NCF will hold a public symposium on October 21 in conjunction with the 51st anniversary of the October revolution.

The government-led national dialogue conference was inaugurated in Khartoum on Saturday amid large boycott from the major political and armed opposition.

The opposition forces refuse to join the dialogue and demand the implementation of the confidence building measures included in the African Union roadmap as the stopping of the war, release of political detainees, ensuring political and press freedoms and freedom of expression.

But the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the political forces participating in the dialogue say they wouldn’t accept any prerequisites and that all issues must be brought to the negotiating table.