Sudanese Opposition Leaders Call for President to Step Down

Article Summary
Against the backdrop of a national split, widespread poverty and the suppression of freedom, Sudanese opposition leaders insist that President Omar al-Bashir leave office. Al-Nour Ahmad Al-Nour reports that although some officials blame South Sudan for the unrest, opposition leaders claim that Bashir’s government is undemocratic and ineffective.

Yesterday [June 12], Sudanese opposition leaders took to the streets in Omdurman, in the capital state of Khartoum, in the first protest against the economic crisis and the raging wars in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. For half an hour, protesters stood outside the opposition party’s headquarters declaring the beginning of a new stage for the country, demanding a "democratic alternative" to President Omar al-Bashir’s regime.

After organizing the protest, Chairman of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) Farouk Abu Issa said at a press conference that opposition party leaders were meeting to discuss the post-government era. They agreed to form a transitional government with a three-year mandate, which includes all political forces dubbed "democratic alternatives.”

Opposition coalition party leaders are expected to sign two documents, the constitutional declaration and the democratic alternative, on June 26, Abu Issa added.

Secretary-General of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan al-Turabi said the country’s split, the war, poverty and the suppression of freedom have reached their boiling point. Thus, the current regime should step down so that the country can establish democracy. The emerging modern and traditional powers as well as marginalized groups should all have a say in this process.

"The economic crisis is worsening and affecting all walks of life. We must plan for the post-regime era to avoid chaos and make the transition from an ugly regime to a good one, and I think that the future bodes well for such a plan," said Turabi.

Opposition leaders met to discuss the necessary preparations for the post-regime era in order to avoid chaos once the Bashir regime is toppled, thus confirming that opposition leaders are trying to avoid the negative repercussions faced by the Arab Spring countries. Turabi pointed out that the Sudanese people have already toppled two dictators: presidents Ibrahim Abboud in 1964 and Gaafar Nimeiry in 1985.

Secretary of the Communist Party Mohammed Mokhtar al-Khatib, who succeeded Muhammad Ibrahim Nugud as leader of the party last week, said that the opposition has decided to free the people from the grip of the ruling regime. He said that the regime has failed to manage the country, and that this has forced the people into a critical state and put them under international tutelage. He added, "the only alternative is to overthrow this regime and take practical steps to achieve this goal."

The president of the Congress Party of Sudan, Ibrahim Sheikh said, "It is time to change this regime in order to save the Sudanese people from poverty and misery, and to instead offer them prosperity and productivity."

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit said that the Sudanese government is unwilling to find a solution to the border issue between the two countries through dialogue, and that it is trying to occupy southern territories. Kiir called for the international community to intervene and help resolve the issue of the disputed areas between the two countries.

Addressing parliament on June 11, Kiir said that his government proposed African mediation between Khartoum, Juba and the UN Security Council, and that the border and disputed areas issues be deferred to international arbitration so that appropriate measures can be taken. He added that his country is committed to "clear" delineations of the borders with Sudan based on historical and legal facts. He also insists that Juba will not relinquish the Heglig oil field. "We will not relinquish our entitlement to the disputed areas to Sudan," he continued.

However, Nafie Ali Nafie, assistant to the President of Sudan, accused the South Sudanese government of trying to prolong the negotiations between the two countries as part of its economic war against Khartoum. He also accused it of trying to hinder the negotiations and use outstanding issues to jeopardize Sudan’s stability.

Nafie said that Sudan is embroiled in a direct and economic war because it is moving forward developmentally, despite the obstacles that it faces and the fact that some international bodies are hindering this process. He pointed out that Juba had intensified its demands and that this led to the thwarting the latest round of talks.

However, yesterday, Sudanese authorities suspended the independent daily Al-Tayyar until further notice. Al-Tayyar editor Osman Mirghani said that a security-service official informed him on Monday [June 11] night that the newspaper would be suspended until further notice, but gave no specific reasons.

Editor of the independent Al-Ahram Al-Youm newspaper Abdel Majed Abdel Hamid said that authorities confiscated Al-Ahram Al-Youm’s June 12 edition, after it was printed, for no clear reason. However, the newspaper is believed to have violated the authority’s instructions that no conversations with armed opposition leaders or Southern Sudanese government officials can be published. In that issue, the newspaper had published a conversation with South Sudan’s chief negotiator, Pagan Amum.

Found in: al-ahram newspaper, heglig oil field, national consensus forces, south sudan

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