El Mahdi: ‘Talks in current form will not achieve peace in Sudan’

According to El Sadig El Mahdi, chairman of the National Umma Party (NUP), the handling of the peace talks in the current way will not achieve peace.

El Sadig El Mahdi (File photo)

According to El Sadig El Mahdi, chairman of the National Umma Party (NUP), the handling of the peace talks in the current way will not achieve peace.

He called for a national conference for economic recovery, and he appealed to friendly countries to support Sudan with a development project.

The party leader also called on the international community to prepare to support Sudan and recognise that it has crossed into a new historical stage with Juba negotiations as a faltering start.

In a speech on his 84th birthday and the inauguration of his book Religion and Philosophy on Wednesday, El Mahdi said that the government negotiation team is moving without an agreed strategy, and that the negotiators on the side of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance do not have a unified vision.

“The mediation mechanism is divided and does not have the required weight, which would automatically drop all the sanctions directed against the deposed regime.”

He warned the international community against the consequences of “trapping the new Sudan with the chains of the deposed regime”, allowing the affiliates of the deposed regime to take political steps for conspiracy.

He called on the USA to lift the sanctions on Sudan. “It cannot be that the new Sudan inherits the sins of the ousted regime, nor the sanctions and fines imposed on the country.”

Grave challenges

He said that the transitional period faces grave challenges, stressing that all political forces bear the mistakes of the stage, and work towards correcting them, and making the transitional period a success.

For years, the NUP has been advocating a new, democratic government. In December 2014, the party signed the Sudan Call (or Sudan Appeal) in Addis Ababa, together with the SRF, the National Consensus Forces coalition of opposition parties, and civil society organisations.

The position of El Mahdi’s party towards the power circles in Sudan has not always been clear. He been repeatedly accused of siding with Omar Al Bashir. In 2008, the NUP signed an agreement with Al Bashir's ruling party, causing many young supporters to leave. After the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants against Al Bashir in 2009 and 2010, El Mahdi more than once spoke out against the indictments.

During the uprising, the party seems to have lost even more of its influence. Though the NUP signed the Declaration for Freedom and Change on January 1, it has not been an active member of the opposition forces. The isolated position it took to keep its leading role seems to have turned against the party itself.

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