Sudan opposition, govt. still at odds on election
On Saturday, security agents briefly detained about 40 Sudanese opposition leaders who were to attend a public forum in El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan. Also on Saturday, Yasir Arman, secretary-general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) stated that the recent attacks on government positions in South Kordofan have no relation to the peaceful campaign of the Sudan Appeal forces who aim to boycott the general election, scheduled for April this year.
Most of the 40 opposition leaders were held in El Obeid, others on their way from Khartoum to the central Sudanese town, where they were to meet at a public forum organised by activists of the “Leave!” campaign. Sarah Nugdallah, NUP Secretary-General, was among the opposition leaders detained.
According to eyewitnesses, government forces surrounded the building where the event was to take place, blocking access to the people. They dispersed the crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Earlier attempts to hold public forums in Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira state, and Sinja, in eastern Sudan, were also stopped by the authorities.
The “Leave!” campaign was launched by the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties) and the National Umma Party (NUP) early last month, with the aim of collecting signatures among the population to boycott the general election, scheduled to start on 13 April.
The campaign is based on the Sudan Appeal, a political communiqué which calls for regime-change and the rebuilding of Sudan on the basis of democracy and equal citizenship, signed by the NUP, the NCF, the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, an alliance of the main rebel movements), and the Civil Society Initiative in Addis Ababa on 3 December. The signatories stress that the planned election cannot take place before all parties in Sudan agree on a broad national dialogue and a comprehensive political solution, such as an end to the wars, the restoration of freedom, and the formation of a broad interim government.
During the last week of February, the Sudan Appeal signatories met in Berlin, at the invitation of the German government, and discussed their position regarding a broad national dialogue. On the 27th, they signed a joint position paper that became known as the Berlin Declaration, in which they set out their conditions for participation in the National Dialogue process. The signatories all insisted that the election should be postponed before preparatory meetings on a broad-based dialogue can commence.
The ruling National Congress Party issued a statement last week saying that “after studying the document, the party’s political sector extends its thanks and appreciation to the German government. [..] The NCP stresses its firm stance on a national dialogue which includes everyone without exception in order to reach a consensus which supports security, stability, and peaceful exchange of power in Sudan.”
President Al Bashir, however, denounced the Berlin Declaration, and called it “a failure”. He told El Ray El Aam daily newspaper on Saturday, that the Berlin Declaration “has not achieved the objectives sought by the Germans themselves”, terming the declaration by the opposition as void, “as if it has not taken place”.
"Dry season campaign"
Also on Saturday, Yasir Arman, SPLM-N issued a statement in which he explained that the recent attacks by rebel fighters on government positions in South Kordofan were launched to “counter the dry season military campaign against the insurgents, ordered by President Omar Al Bashir last year.
“The forces behind the Sudan Appeal, working peacefully [on regime-change], have absolutely no relation with this military campaign. The SPLM-N and its leaders alone are responsible for this military counter-campaign,” he stressed.
Arno Ngutulu Lodi, SPLM-N’s military spokesman had stated on Friday that the attacks on Kologi, Tozi, and El Rahmania last week were part of the “Sudan Appeal military campaign”, to both strip the Sudanese forces and militias of their weapons and equipment, and support the “Leave!” campaign which aims to boycott the April election, and to topple the government.
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