Two opposition parties suspend participation in Sudan’s dialogue process

Addis Tribune
January 20, 2014

From left to right: Leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan Al-Turabi, Reform Now Party (RNP) head Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani, National Umma Party (NUP) Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi and second vice-president Hassabo Abdel-Rahman attend a speech by the president announcing a national dialogue initiative on 27 January 2014 (SUNA)
From left to right: Leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan Al-Turabi, Reform Now Party (RNP) head Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani, National Umma Party (NUP) Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi and second vice-president Hassabo Abdel-Rahman attend a speech by the president announcing a national dialogue initiative on 27 January 2014 (SUNA)

KHARTOUM – Two more Sudanese opposition parties have decided to suspend their participation in the national dialogue, but the Popular Congress Party (PCP) of Hassan al-Turbi reiterated it commitment to the internal political process.

The National Umma Party suspended its participation in the national dialogue in May 2014 following the arrest of its leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, and called to suspend the elections, to create the right political environment for the conduct of the process, and to include rebel groups.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Reform Now Movement (RNM) of Ghazi Salah Eddin al-Attabani and the Just Peace Forum (JPF) led al-Tayeb Mustafa announced they decided to boycott a meeting of the President of the Republic with the dialogue committee on Wednesday evening pointing that some parties are invited to participate as opposition representatives while they are not.

They further decided to “suspend participation in the national dialogue until the requirements of a conducive environment (…) are met”.

The two opposition parties identified 12 confidence building measures saying that it was agreed in the roadmap of the national dialogue and endorsed by the regional and international organisations supporting the process.

These measures include the release of political detainees, freedom of expression, freedom of movement and travel, end media restrictions, take the needed measures to allow the return of opponents and rebels into the country, stop war and allow humanitarian access.

The two parties also rejected the “secret and unilateral” constitutional amendments increasing the powers of the Sudanese president, and reiterated their objection to the general elections scheduled for next April.

TURABI’S UNRESTRICTED SUPPORT

Like the PCP, the RNM and JPF are splinter factions of the National Congress Party led by president Omer al-Bashir. However since the start of the national dialogue process, the party of Hassan al-Turabi shows more willingness to make concessions to the ruling party.

The PCP reacted quickly to the decision of the two parties and reiterated its commitment to the internal political process. It also confirmed its participation in the meeting with president Bashir.

The PCP political secretary, Kamal Omer Abdelsalam , said the statement was “misleading” because it did explicitly say that the decision of suspension concerns only two parties.

He wondered in statements to Sudan Tribune “why the RNM and JPF did not clearly name the parties that suspended their participation in the process,” adding that his party, Justice Party, United Umma Party, Federal Truth Party (FTP) and the East Front parties are still part of the process.

He added that the requirements of a conducive environment which are already in the roadmap will be discussed on Wednesday’s meeting with the president.

Abdelsalam disclosed that they were surprised by the suspension, adding “these forces know that the process is fraught with violations”.

Analysts in Khartoum say the real dialogue in Sudan is between the NCP and the PCP, alluding to the unconditional support of Tuarbi party to every political move taken by the ruling party.

They add that for the PCP the priority at this stage should be maintaining the Islamic regime in Sudan at all costs.

Last year, Abdelsalam criticised the opposition parties for their support to the then defence minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when he toppled the regime of the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

He said the Sudanese opposition supported the overthrow of a constitutional government in Egypt by the army because of its Islamic orientation.

Sunday, the rebel SPLM-N secretary general Yasir Arman called on the Islamic forces in Sudan to sever ties with regime and to join the camp of the opposition forces in their demand for peace and democratic reforms.

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