El Sadig El Mahdi, President of the National Umma Party (NUP), has denounced the threat by President Omar Al Bashir to take legal action against members of the Sudan Call opposition alliance because they are cooperating with the country’s armed movements.
The Sudan Call, a two-page political communiqué calling for regime-change and democracy, was signed by representatives of the NUP, the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties), the Civil Society Initiative, and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, an alliance of the main rebel movements), in Addis Ababa on 3 December 2014. Other Sudanese opposition groups and parties joined them in the following year.
In March this year the group convened in the French capital. They agreed on mobilising the people in Sudan for a popular uprising. At the same time, the allied opposition forces will respond to initiatives of the international community and the African Union to revive the roadmap for the Sudanese peace talks based on AU resolutions.
In a statement on Friday, El Mahdi, currently chairman of the Sudan Call group, expressed his surprise that the Sudanese government considers any dealing with armed movements a criminal act.
“The ruling junta in Sudan, indicted and accountable for the civil wars [..], declared that it will prosecute the forces of the Sudan Call, while its members are proposing [..] a just peace and a democratic transformation by peaceful means,” he stated.
The opposition leader said that Khartoum seeks to disband the Sudan Call alliance. He pointed to the major detention campaign by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of opposition leaders in January, because the main opposition parties organised demonstrations in protest against major austerity measures that month.
He further wondered why the authorities did not earlier file an official complaint against the Sudan Call members. “We have been operating and advocating at home and abroad for more than 40 months. [..] Meanwhile, Khartoum does recognise the armed movements, by agreeing to negotiate with them.”
El Mahdi as well challenged the authorities by saying he would return to the country following the accomplishment of his tasks abroad.
After signing the Sudan Call document, the chairmen of the NCF and the Civil Society Initiative, and the legal consultant of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North were detained by the NISS upon their return to Khartoum on 6 December 2014. They were released on 9 April the following year, a few days before the general election would begin in the country.
El Mahdi remained abroad in a self-imposed exile until early 2017. On his return to the Sudanese capital on 26 January that year, he was welcomed by a huge crowd of supporters.
‘Not allowed by law’
In an interview with El Sudani newspaper on March 22, President Al Bashir said the Sudan Call “is not a viable alliance”. He added that a similar experience has failed in the past and "this new alliance will have the same fate.
“The government completely refuses the participation of any political party authorised to work inside the country that has in an alliance with an armed faction. This is not allowed by the law, it is not possible to combine military activity and political action,” Al Bashir said.