KHARTOUM, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday urged all Sudan’s political forces and armed groups to join a comprehensive dialogue, calling on factions to move past ” individual interests.”
Addressing the audience at the opening of the fourth general conference of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), al-Bashir vowed to find a national consensus, saying he was committed to achieving the goals of the national dialogue.
The president added that decentralized rule in Sudan has had some negative effects on the country, blaming “tribalism” on local autonomy, while urging members of the ruling party to reconsider decentralized government.
Throughout the president’s 25-year rule of Sudan, several major conflicts have plagued ordinary citizens and have destabilized various regions of the country. Violent clashes between armed rebel groups and government forces have forcibly displaced thousands throughout the country, especially in Darfur, South Kordofan, and in the Blue Nile States, leading to humanitarian crises, according to media reports and international aid agencies.
The Sudanese president presented an optimistic outlook on foreign relations.
“We are keen on openness to the international community according to principles of sovereignty, exchange of benefits and realization of common interests,” al-Bashir said.
He pointed to Sudan’s recent breakthrough in ties with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, adding that the size of the foreign investments in Sudan until the end of 2013 increased to 31 billion U.S. dollars.
However, he also added that after the separation of South Sudan and its resources in 2011, the country continues to face economic challenges, stressing that Sudan needs to find ways to economically develop.
The NCP general conference is expected to approve the candidacy of al-Bashir, who was selected by the party’s Shura (consultation) Council as the main party candidate for the coming presidential elections, slated for April 2015.
Major opposition parties in Sudan have been calling for the elections to be delayed, saying that they need more time to raise funds and communicate with their supporters, but the government has refused their requests.
In 2010, the NCP headed by al-Bashir won Sudan’s first multi- party elections in almost 24 years. However, opposition parties criticized the elections, doubting its fairness.
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