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El Mahdi: Sudanese govt treats me as public enemy number one

November 19 - 2018 THE HAGUE
NUP leader speaking at a symposium entitled Future of Sudan: Discussion with El Sadig El Mahdi, in The Hague (Picture: Mudawi Abubakar Mohammed / Stichting Phanaar
NUP leader speaking at a symposium entitled Future of Sudan: Discussion with El Sadig El Mahdi, in The Hague (Picture: Mudawi Abubakar Mohammed / Stichting Phanaar

The leader of Sudan’s major opposition National Umma Party (NUP), and chair of the Sudan Call alliance, El Sadig El Mahdi, asserts that the ruling National Congress Party regime in Khartoum treats him as ‘public enemy number one’ because his party ‘represents the greatest threat to the regime’.

Speaking on Friday at a symposium entitled Future of Sudan: Discussion with El Sadig El Mahdi, hosted by The Hague Peace Projects, El Mahdi said: “The regime based its power on ethnic divisions… they believe that we [The NUP] have done something to negate this polarisation… this is something that makes us now the greatest threat to the regime and that’s why they deal with me as public enemy number one.”

As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, El Mahdi, who has spent several months in self-imposed exile in Cairo, Europe, and the UK, faces arrest should he return to Sudan as planned.

'The regime based its power on ethnic divisions… they believe that we [The NUP] have done something to negate this polarisation… this is something that makes us now the greatest threat to the regime and that’s why they deal with me as public enemy number one'

He has denied that his return to the country, scheduled for December 19, is part of an agreement with the Sudanese government, for example to participate in the elections of 2020. However, Sudan’s state security prosecutor on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for El Mahdi and others, should they attempt to re-enter the country, citing several articles of the Criminal Code related to subversive activities to undermine the constitutional order, incitement against the state, publishing false news. The arrest warrant also included an article of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

 

Peace-making, democratisation

In response to whether he intends to retire from politics, El Mahdi said: “Naturally someone like me, of my age, should now retire. But I believe the nation requires this kind of mission. It is true I am thinking of giving up active politics, but this is something I will do in terms of peace-making and democratisation in Sudan.”

Prodigal son

Quizzed about the fact that one of his sons is an active member of the Sudanese security services, El Mahdi stressed: “As to the point of my son being an assistant to Al Bashir, this is true, but this is against my will, against my advice, against any kind of involvement. The Umma Party has declared clearly that [my son] does not represent the Umma Party… in politics, he is now part and parcel of the regime which we oppose.”

Exile

El Mahdi remained abroad in a self-imposed exile until early 2017, when he returned to the Sudanese capital. He left Sudan in August 2014 after having been detained for one month. He was accused by the National Intelligence and Security Service of undermining the Constitution. El Mahdi had denounced the widespread attacks against civilians in Kordofan and Darfur by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commanded by the NISS.

Capital charges

In April this year, following El Mahdi’s election as chairman of the Sudan Call alliance, the State Security Prosecution service in Sudan instructed a complaint be filed against El Mahdi, “for dealing and coordinating with rebel armed movements to overthrow the regime.”

The Sudanese Security Services Centre said the move came after the National Intelligence and Service (NISS) submitted a petition to the State Security Prosecution against El Sadig El Mahdi and others.

The NISS was responding to threats of legal action against the alliance made by Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir since the conclusion of meetings of the Sudan Call in Paris in March.

The NISS said that the High Prosecutor General Advisor Motasim Abdallah filed charges on sabotaging of the constitutional order, staging war, calling for opposition to the public authority by violence, and spying on the country, which is punishable by death, in addition to articles 5 and 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.


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