16 January 2012

Sudan: Al-Mahdi to Visit Epicenter of Al-Manasir Protest

Khartoum — Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of Sudan's opposition National Umma Party (NUP), is planning a visit on Tuesday to Al-Damer town in the Nile River State in order to meet Al-Manasir protesters.

Al-Damer, 300 kilometers north of Khartoum, has been for more than two months the scene of a sit-in by members of Al-Manasir community who are protesting failure to compensate them for the damage of their properties due to the construction of the government-sponsored Merowe Dam.

The construction of Merowe dam on the Fourth cataract of the River Nile, 350 kilometers north of Khartoum, has displaced more than 100,000 local persons belonging to three riverian communities, Al Hamdab, Amri and Al-Manasir.

A statement issued by Al-Mahdi's office said that his plans to meet Al-Manasir' representatives comes within the context of his interest in resolving the issue and listening to all sides of the dispute.

The statement added that Al-Mahdi previously met with the governor of the Nile River State, Al-Hadi Abdulla, and the state minister at the Ministry of Dams, Osama Abdullah.

Sudanese authorities are hypersensitive to attempts by opposition groups to politicize the issue of Al-Manasir. On Friday, security forces prevented an opposition delegation comprising Al-Mahdi's daughter Maryam al-Sadiq from reaching Al-Damer to meet Al-Manasir, saying their issue is not political to warrant solidarity by political groups.

Al-Manasir students staged two protests in Khartoum late last year, but police forces used force to break them up.

President Al-Bashir promised in December to find a quick solution to Al-Manasir's plight. Al-Manasir protestors threatened to take their protest to Khartoum if their issue is not resolved.

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