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Sudan’s Al Bashir defies AU meeting proposal

August 31 - 2015 KHARTOUM
President Omar Al Bashir (Reuters)
President Omar Al Bashir (Reuters)

On Sunday, President Omar Al Bashir announced his rejection of the proposal by the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to hold a preparatory meeting on the National Dialogue under auspices of the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) in Addis Ababa. Opposition leader Dr Ghazi Salaheddin Atabani warned the Sudanese government of the consequences of this “illogical” stance.

Last Wednesday the AUPSC released a communiqué on its 539th AUPSC meeting held on 25 August, in which it reiterated its call for “an urgent pre-National Dialogue meeting of all relevant parties, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, to discuss and agree on procedural matters relating to the Dialogue”. The communiqué was widely welcomed among the Sudanese opposition forces.

Al Bashir, however, repeated his stance that the National Dialogue can only take place within Sudan in his address to the army forces of the Wadi Sayedna garrison on Sunday.

He was accompanied by the newly sworn-in Defence Minister Awad Mohamed El Auf and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mustafa Osman Obeid. He said that “Now they issued a decision … but we say no to the AU, no to the UN, to America, Europe, and others who force us to do something we do not want to do. We will not hand the interests of the country to anyone.”

The Sudanese president stated that the “coming year will be the year of peace. Those who voluntarily want this peace are welcome. Those who do not want to come, we will get them, from the forests, the wilderness, or from the mountains”.

Strange position’

Dr Ghazi Salaheddin Atabani, head of the Reform Now Movement founded by a group of dissidents of the ruling National Congress Party in December 2013, warned for the consequences of ignoring the decision of the AUSCP.

“The government will be forced to accept the preparatory meeting sooner or later,” Atabani commented in a news conference held in Khartoum on Sunday on the “current political situation and the future of the dialogue”.

He said that the AUPSC’s recent decision on Sudanese dialogue “reflects the irritation of the Africans over the government’s procrastination in taking the correct steps to conduct a comprehensive and genuine National Dialogue.

“Al Bashir’s underestimation of the AU Council will expose Sudan to global pressures. This will cost him more than it will to engage in a real dialogue with the people of Sudan”.

Atabani advised the Sudanese government to abandon “its illogical and strange position” and agree on a preliminary dialogue meeting in the Ethiopian capital.

Dr Ghazi Salaheddin Atabani (with white turban) during the news conference in Khartoum on Sunday.

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