The Sudanese political scene has witnessed tension and polarization between the government and the opposition. Vice President Adam Yousef strongly criticized the Umma Party led by Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi. Yousef threatened to mobilize his support bases to abort an agreement signed by Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, a leader at the party, with the Minni Arko Minnawi faction of the dissident Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) in Darfur. However, the Umma Party rejected the threat, asserting its adherence to its position.
At a press conference, Yousef asked the Umma Party to take a position on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by Mariam al-Mahdi with the Minnawi movement in Kampala, and declare whether the party endorses or repudiates it. He said that the MoU was signed on behalf of the party, which implies its approval and endorsement. He stressed that the future relationship between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Umma Party depends on the latter’s position on the MoU, accusing it of having “vague and blurred positions.”
Yousef denounced the agreement, saying it “falls under the category of conspiracy and espionage with rebels working against the state.” He called on the relevant authorities to “take measures against the signatories [of the agreement],” describing Mariam as a “rebel.” He said that she participated in a ceremony held by the Mannawi movement and was accompanied by leaders of the dissident Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) coalition, including Malik Agar, Abdul Aziz al-Helou and Abu-Qasem Imam. He added that “if all of those with Miriam are rebels, then she must be a rebel as well.”
Yousef, who is from the Darfur region, threatened to mobilize his party bases and the people of Darfur against the agreement and fight it politically, unless the Umma Party repudiates it, attributes its signing to Mariam al-Sadiq and holds her to account. He said that Sadiq, “in her speech at the anniversary of the founding of the Minnawi movement in Kampala, met with insurgents and agreed with them to topple the regime through methods of armed movements... If she wants to rebel, she should join the insurgency.”
Yousef said that Mariam “has failed her party by dragging it toward the path of violence, causing it to take up arms and cooperating with militants to overthrow the regime,” adding that she is “taking advantage of and making political gains through the Umma Party.” He said that coming to an agreement with “a terrorist movement reflects a lack of regard to the popular support bases of the Umma Party and the people of Darfur, whereas the ruling party is dealing with the Umma Party with much respect.”
Yousef hurled accusations against “some opportunists who belong to political parties and use a political mask to implement private agendas.” He noted that “the same method was adopted by some leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party, such as Ali Mahmoud Hassanein and Al-Tomm Hajo, who used to speak on behalf of the party, while engaging in hostile activities with the rebel movements who carry arms against the state.” He added that “the party has dismissed them, and they are no longer entitled to speak on its behalf.”
Umma Party Secretary-General Ibrahim al-Amin rejected Yousef’s threat of taking measures against his party. He said that “the Umma Party is the basis of the national state, and they cannot threaten us with death and imprisonment. We are not afraid, will not change our position, and will not give up.” Addressing the party youth at a meeting yesterday [August 16], Amin said: “You should be ready, and not backtrack on your positions.” He said that he chose three of the party cadres that were arrested in the recent demonstrations as his aides, due to “their sacrifices.”
Mariam al-Mahdi refused to respond to the vice president’s accusations. She said that his statements were of no concern to her, but do concern her party, which authorized her to sign an agreement with the Minnawi movement. She pointed out that “the party's position calls for communicating with all forces, including the armed movements, which should be part of the solution to the national crisis.”
Mariam visited the Ugandan capital [Kampala], where she met with leaders of the armed movements. She signed an agreement with the Minni Minnawi movement, which included the general principles that need to be incorporated into the permanent constitution of the country, special measures that need to be taken in areas affected by armed conflict — such as Darfur, the Blue Nile and South Kordofan — and the special relationship with South Sudan.
After Mariam’s return from Kampala, a press conference was held to announce that the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces [of West Sudan] supports the initiative led by the Umma Party to hold a comprehensive national conference for peace and democratic transformation, with the participation of the political forces, the armed movements and civil society organizations. However, the alliance denied having reached a political agreement with the Umma Party over the prospective conference, saying it is not concerned about this matter.
On a separate note, Head of the Security and Intelligence Apparatus Mohammad Atta al-Mawla Abbas issued a decision to release 80 political prisoners by order of President Omar al-Bashir, amid complaints from opposition forces over the continuation of arrests of opposition leaders by the security apparatuses.
The security apparatus said in a statement: “There is evidence that implicates these detainees in the recent sabotage attempts, but a decision was made to release them.” The security services arrested weeks ago scores of protesters who were taking part in peaceful protests denouncing the high cost of living and price rises following the government’s decision to cancel some fuel subsidies as part of an “austerity plan.”
The statement said that “the evidence indicated that the detainees were involved in inciting hatred against the state, disturbing public peace and damaging public and private property, thereby violating the transitional constitution, which imposes on all citizens duties toward their country, through renouncing violence and [working toward achieving] a peaceful devolution of power by participating in the elections, not through another means. He expressed his hope that “everyone would maintain a national spirit and prevent the enemies of the country from fulfilling their goals.”
NCP official Abu-Bakr Abd-al-Razeq said in a statement that security services detained around 70 NCP members in various regions, and that only 20 have thus far been released. He noted that their release was based upon a decision by the security director that did not include the NCP’s political secretary Kamal Omar and student leaders.
Wagdi Salih, senior member of the Sudanese Baath Party, said that the release order did not include prominent leaders of the opposition forces, most notably Mohammad Dia al-Din, Munther Abu-al-Maali and Sateh al-Hajj. A leading figure at the Umma Party said that the authorities did not release party member Mohammad Foul, and youth leaders like Al-Qoni Idris and Yasser Fathi.
But a presidential official told Al-Hayat yesterday that Bashir ordered the release of all political detainees, and that the authorities will carry out the order before the Eid al-Fitr holidays.