Sudanese president urges more parties to sign national accord

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (centre) celebrates on stage with a gathering of supporters at the Green Square in the capital Khartoum on October 11, 2016 following the declaration of an extension of a ceasefire. PHOTO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • President al-Bashir has been under pressure from religious extremists within his ruling National congress Party who accuse him of having allowed South Sudan to be seceded in July 2011.
  • President al-Bashir also wants to reach out to the United States that maintains economic sanctions against the country on the basis of Sudan being in the list of the states that sponsor terrorism. 
  • President al-Bashir launched the National Dialogue in 2014 to reach out to the opposition and end the political instability and rebellion in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

KHARTOUM

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir is moving away from the Islamic extremists within his ruling party by declaring the rebirth of a new Sudan minus religious fanaticism. 

A day after the signing of the National Dialogue Accord that seek to change the constitution to usher in a government of national unity, President al-Bashir said: “As of today the Sudanese people are in the New Sudan which is free from regionalism, tribalism and racism”. 

The president was speaking at the Green Square in Khartoum to celebrate the signing of National Document on October 10 by the government and 90 political parties, also declared that October 11 will be marked as a national holiday.

President al-Bashir- who came to power in 1989 in a bloodless coup - has been facing immense pressure from religious extremists  within his ruling National congress Party (NCP) who accuse him of having allowed South Sudan to be seceded in July 2011.

The hardliners under the umbrella of the Future Forces for Change (FFC) led by Ghazi Salah al-Din, had split from NCP and had been reaching out for the opposition, including the National Umma Party, led by former prime minister, Sadique el-Mahdi that boycotted the national dialogue launched in January 2014. 

However, FFC, that comprises Islamic groups, changed their minds at the last minute and participated in the last days of the dialogue that culminated into the signing a document that promises a “new Sudan” that will start working  for a new constitution.

The late Islamic ideologue, Hassan al-Turabi, who was the brainchild behind the 1989 coup, had split from NCP a few years ago to form his own Popular Congress Party.

Local analysts say that by declaring that Sudan wants to move away Islamic fundamentalism, President al-Bashir wants to reach out to various rebels who accuse Khartoum of ruling based on rigid religious tenets.

It is the same reasons that led the late Dr John Garang into launching the rebellion in the south in 1983 in resistance to the introduction of Sharia law under the then President Jaffer Numeiri. 

Now, President al-Bashir also wants to reach out to the United States that maintains economic sanctions against the country on the basis of Sudan being in the list of the states that sponsor terrorism. 

POLITICAL INSTABILITY

President al-Bashir launched the National Dialogue in 2014 to reach out to the opposition and end the political instability and rebellion in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

President Bashir has urged the parties rejecting the dialogue to join the political process, saying “the document will remain open if they are willing to sign it.”

“The parties rejecting the dialogue have now become enemies of the Sudanese people. If they come for peace, they will become part of us, and if they reject, we will get to them where they are and confront them,” he said. Sudan’s national dialogue conference on Monday approved a final document after one year of deliberations.

The final document, covering ‘‘principles of rules, public freedom, identity, peace, unity, economy and foreign relations, will provide the base for the country’s permanent constitution’’.

In January 2014, al-Bashir declared an initiative calling on the opposition parties and the armed groups to join a national dialogue to end the country’s crises.

The sessions of the dialogue kicked off in October 2015, with the participation of a number of Sudanese political parties, civil society organisations and some Darfur armed groups.

However, major political parties and armed movements, including the Revolutionary Front Alliance, which brings together the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/northern sector and major Darfur armed movements, refused to participate in the conference.

Darfur armed groups and the SPLM/northern sector insist that a preparatory conference should be held, according to decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council, to bring together all the Sudanese political forces to agree on procedures to initiate an equitable dialogue with the government, a demand that the Sudanese government rejects. 

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