Sudan’s former PM denies reports of agreeing to join government
February 12, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The former Sudanese Prime Minister and leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi has vehemently dismissed reports that he intends to join the government dominated by the National Congress Party (NCP).
National Umma Party chief Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi (AFP)
President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir who is the NCP’s chairman announced that following the south’s secession he will form a broad-based government that could incorporate other parties to fill posts that will be vacant after the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) is no longer part of the cabinet.
The offer drew mixed reaction from opposition parties though the majority said that they want new elections and formation of an interim government to oversee them and that the offer of positions will not resolve issues facing the country.
Last month, Bashir held talks directly with Al-Mahdi and through envoys with the head of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Mohamed Osman Al-Mirghani.
Al-Mahdi said that his talks with the NCP are over the “national agenda” and not on assuming post in the new government.
“I don’t know what more can we do to prove that we are not after participation [in the government]? We are talking about the national agenda that everyone can be part of” Al-Mahdi told reporters on Saturday at a press conference.
“Please write in large font; The issue is not that we want ministries or prime minister. The issue is not who rules Sudan but how it is ruled,” he added.
The former PM stressed that his party wants a new constitution, brotherhood accord with the South, securing basic freedoms, resolving Darfur crisis, new economic policy, realistic handling of the standoff with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a transitional government.
“Any participation in the manner that makes us part of a program that lacks freedoms is out of question,” he said.
Mahdi’s abrupt meeting with Bashir in January drew strong criticism from other opposition parties who felt betrayed. Even members of the NUP were outraged as they have been pushing for confrontation with the government.
In a related development, the head of the national alliance powers Farouk Abu Eissa urged the government to release all detainees who were arrested during demonstrations that took place in different parts of Sudan in late January.
He called the government’s crackdown as “barbaric” and “unethical” and said that Khartoum must learn lessons from recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled deeply entrenched regimes.
He also reiterated that any participation in the government through bilateral talks will not fix any problems.
This week, a group of mothers who have their children still detained by authorities staged a demonstration in front of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) headquarters and vowed a sit-in next soon unless the prisoners are released or charged.
Sudanese youths have been attempting to mobilize through social networking sites and stage demonstrations in a manner similar to that of Tunisia and Egypt but have only managed to assemble few hundreds and were quickly rounded up and arrested by NISS agents.
Political tensions are growing in North Sudan as the South preparers to break away and opposition parties are becoming increasingly frustrated with the full hegemony of the NCP over the state and decision making process.