Sudanese Dialogue boycott ‘larger than expected’

No heads of states or other prominent foreign functionaries attended the launch of the National Dialogue in Khartoum on Saturday, except the Chadian president and the secretary-general of the Arab League.

In addition to the absence of the majority of the opposition parties and rebel forces, no heads of states or other prominent foreign functionaries attended the launch of the National Dialogue in Khartoum on Saturday, except the Chadian president and the secretary-general of the Arab League.

Former Foreign Minister Ibrahim Taha Ayoub (1985-1986) described the “broad boycott of the Khartoum Dialogue conference” as “a sign of a lack of conviction among the people home and abroad about Khartoum's aims concerning this dialogue”.

Ayoub noted to Radio Dabanga that no officials from the AU attended, and downplayed the participation of Chadian President Idris Deby and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El Arabi. “Deby was brought to power by Khartoum, and the Arab League is weak and does not have any influence on what is happening in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, or Libya.”

Siddig Yousef, prominent leader of the Communist Party of Sudan, told Radio Dabanga that the boycott was greater than expected.

“Apart from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance, the Umma Party and the National Consensus Forces (a coalition of leftist opposition parties), 21 parties withdrew from the National Dialogue committees and announced their dissatisfaction with the process,” he commented.

'No results'

Political analyst and editor-in-chief of Hurriyat electronic newspaper El Haj Warrag also does not expect any positive outcomes of the “dialogue between between President Omar El Bashir and his former master Hassan El Turabi, between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Popular Congress Party”.

He told Radio Dabanga on Sunday that “such a narrow dialogue will not lead to any result. Every one knows this dialogue will not end the civil wars, improve foreign relations, nor bolster Sudan's image abroad”.

According to Siddig Yousef, the “gathering on Saturday was not a dialogue, but a festival of speeches by the NCP and its allies, which will not bring about any result.” He downplayed Al Bashir's promises that he would restore civil freedoms in the country. “This was only a bait to drag the opposition to the National Dialogue. The president also declared a two-month ceasefire, but military operations and aerial bombardments are still continuing.”

Dr Jibril Ibrahim, head of the Justice and Equality Movement, commented on Al Bashir's declaration that he is willing to extend the ceasefire period by saying that “such issues are discussed during negotiations rather than through announcements released into the air”.

He stated to Radio Dabanga that  “any ceasefire cannot become permanent unless the political issues that caused the wars are resolved”. The SRF rebel alliance proposed a six-month ceasefire in its new road map in September.