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High tension in Sudan: politicians arrested, opposition HQ blocked

December 7 - 2009 KHARTOUM

The police and army-security officials have surrounded the headquarters of one of the opposition parties in Khartoum-Omdurman in an attempt to hinder the opposition parties to have a joint conference. According to Radio Dabanga-reporters in Khartoum, the riot police – assisted by security officers - used this morning teargas. Later in the afternoon (16.00 local time) the tension seemed to calm down.The tension in Khartoum started to rise quickly after the arrest of several SPLM-leaders. Security and police arrested the general-secretary of the SPLM-party, Pagan Amum and the leader of the northern SPLM-delegation in the parliament Yassir Arman besides some state ministers and others. Yesterday, they were protesting in front of the National Assembly (parliament). According to not confirmed messages, the two leaders have been released today. The surrounding of the opposition headquarters by government forces came shortly after president Omar al Bashir reached out to the main opposition leaders in the North, the Umma party and the Popular Congress Party (PCP). Yesterday evening, president Omar al Bashir met both leaders, Saddiq al Mahdi (UMMA) and Hassan al Turabi (PCP). This morning the government widely published a picture of that ‘succesful’meeting in its newspapers. But the arrest of high opposition officials and the blockade of the Umma-headquarters might be an indication that president Omar al Bashir failed to convince his main political rivals.

The police went this morning first to the offices of the presidential advisor for Darfur, Minni Arkoui Minnawi, to warn the office to stay away from demonstrations against the government. Earlier today rebel movements in Darfur called for more demonstrations against the government. The police started this morning also to block all roads towards the Umma-party centre. This party is headed by the former prime minister of Sudan Saddiq al Mahdi.  Accidently, the security and police  met  in the way to the Umma-party  the secretary general of Minni Minnawi, Ali Hussein Dowsa. They arrested him assuming that he was involved in arranging a conference with all opposition parties. They also arrested the leader of the breakaway Umma-party, Mubarak al-Fadul.

A police colonel told the media this morning that without approval of the police no one in the country will be allowed to have a demonstration. He also said that the police was not involved in quelling the demonstration, adding to rumours that security forces and social forces were in charge to maintain public order.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of president Omar Al Bashir signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 with the SPLM being the start of the current Government of National Unity. The coalition is in trouble over the implementation of the peace deal. The country heading for elections in 2010 and a referendum about secession of the South from the North. The tension in Khartoum has grown rapidly over the last few days after the SPLM asked for international mediation by IGAD since the implementation of the peace agreement stalled. President Bashir refuses to implement a border ruling by the international arbitration court for the contested area of Abyei. His party will also not recognize a vote for Southern independency in 2011 with less than 75% of the people in favour. Nor did the Khartoum government settle a peace deal with the Darfur rebel groups. On Sunday, the Rwanda government accused Khartoum openly for backing the insurgents who killed five Rwandan peacekeepers in Darfur in two consecutive attacks.


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