7 January 2013

Sudan's Umma Party Distances Itself From New Opposition Charter

Khartoum — The Sudanese National Umma Party (NUP) led by former Prime Minister Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi expressed reservations on the "New Dawn" charter signed with other opposition parties and rebel groups over the weekend.

The NUP was one of the signatories to the highly controversial accord which explicitly calls for toppling the regime and sets a vision for a new system that succeeds the government currently dominated by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

In a statement issued on Monday the NUP said that the politburo met to review the agreement and welcomed the comprehensive meeting for political powers to seal a deal that would bring about fair comprehensive peace and democratic transformation.

But the largest Sudanese opposition party said it rejects any clauses negatively impacting the country's unity stressing that it does not support undermining the state but rather restructuring the current institutions.

The NUP also said it does not support resorting to violence or garnering external support for opposition goals.

The statement described the charter as "saggy" and "contradictory" requiring continuing dialogue with other political forces "to unify national vision for the new system desired".

The Sudanese government and the ruling NCP slammed the accord describing it as an attempt to rid the country of its Islamic values and seeking to establish a secular state.

In recent years the NUP, despite being nominally being part of the opposition, has been seen as warming up in recent years to the regime led by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

Al-Mahdi has held several meetings with top government officials including Bashir and other senior NCP figures.

The party's leader has publicly criticized other opposition forces in several instances and last summer said the NUP does not endorse anti-government demonstrations that took place to protests austerity measures.

Furthermore, Al-Mahdi's son Abdel-Rahman has been appointed as presidential assistant to Bashir drawing widespread dismay within the party's base.

But the ex-PM insisted that this was his son's own decision and that he does not represent the party in this move.

He has insisted that his goal is to hold a constitutional conference that brings all political powers including the ruling party and rebel groups together to agree on the way the country should be ruled. The NCP rejects this proposal.

Last year some members of the NUP's politburo privately told Sudan Tribune they believe al-Mahdi has a secret pact with the NCP by which he would oppose the idea of regime change.

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