Sudan Opposition Leader Calls For Peaceful Change

Article Summary
A group of opposition parties in Sudan this week agreed to a program, “The Democratic Alternative," for managing the country during a transitional phase after the regime of Omar al-Bashir is toppled through peaceful means, Al Nour Ahmad al-Nour reports. Meanwhile, Khartoum and Juba entered new negotiations over a demilitarized zone.

Sadiq al-Mahdi, former Sudanese prime minister and current leader of the Umma opposition party, has foretold that his country will follow one of three possible paths. In the first two scenarios, the government will be overthrown either by force or through a popular uprising. In the third, the country will be placed under international trusteeship. These predictions emerged after the opposition alliance organized strikes and protests to topple President Omar al-Bashir’s regime, that coincided with the activists’ “Friday of Aliens” protests.These protests were a response to Bashir, who had earlier described the protesters as “aliens [a Sudanese term for an unpatriotic person] and bubbles.”

While delivering a speech at his party’s political headquarters, Mahdi said, “The revolutionary and international agendas are swiftly underway. No one will be able to prevent them. The time of maneuvers [to avoid the revolution] has passed.” He expected that the “international agenda [to topple the regime]” will be implemented in August.  Mahdi warned against those “who will opt for the revolutionary agenda of a war between the north and the south…This war would be fierce, it will spill over into other countries and it will be costly. The alternative to these agendas would be to establish an alternative system through peaceful means that is based on the people’s will.”

On July 5, a group of opposition parties signed a document they titled, “The Democratic Alternative.” The document discussed a program for managing the country during the transitional period after the regime is toppled.

In the document the parties urged people “not to take advantage of religion in the political conflict in order to preserve the country’s stability and social peace.” The parties will achieve their goals through “strikes, peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins, civil disobedience and popular revolution.”

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Furthermore, the document stated that “President Omar al-Bashir’s regime subjected the Sudanese people to humiliation and disgrace. The regime contributed toward tearing the country apart through the wars that it waged against our fellow citizens in the Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan and Darfur.” The document added that should Bashir and his National Congress Party (NCP) be toppled, a “ceasefire will be declared by all armed rebel groups across Sudan.”

The opposition parties have also agreed to “abolish laws that restrict freedom, hold a national constitutional conference and prepare the country for free elections.” The government downplayed the opposition document, saying that it did not bring anything to the table. Rabih Abdul Ati, a leader in the NCP, said that the opposition “lacks the popular momentum that can help it transform its promises into actions. It has no support from the people. What they say does not disturb us.”

On the other hand, the opposition alliance leader, Farouk Abu Issa, said, “We want to mobilize and organize our people so they can stand firmly by our side in achieving our ultimate goal, which is to overthrow this regime.”

On another note, a governmental delegation headed by Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein left Khartoum July 5 for Addis Ababa to launch negotiations with South Sudan. According to the foreign minister’s spokesman, Al-Abid Mrouh, the round of negotiations — which will be held over the next three days under the auspices of the African Union — will focus on the road map that stipulates the establishment of a yet-to-be-determined demilitarized zone between the two countries.

Mrouh said that this round of talks will not be the last, expecting the negotiating parties to engage in a broader round of negotiations during the African Union Summit. This summit is scheduled to take place from July 9 to July 17 in Addis Ababa.

The spokesperson was cautiously optimistic regarding the negotiations and expressed hope that the controversial issues will be surmounted. UN Security Council Resolution 2046 established August 2 as a deadline for resolving the two countries’ outstanding issues, and Mrouh hopes to see a breakthrough in negotiations before this date.

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Found in: un resolution 2046, democratic alternative, sadiq al-mahdi, umma opposition party, un, sudan protests, sudan, south sudan, omar al-bashir, omar, african union
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