12 January 2013

Sudan: Signatories to 'New Dawn' Charter Had Full Mandate From Opposition Parties - Al-Fadil

Photo: Ammar Abd Rabbo/IRIN
The charter aims to topple the government of president Omar Al-Bashir (file photo).

Khartoum — The representatives of opposition parties who signed the 'New Dawn' charter in Uganda last week were fully authorized and mandated to endorse the document, an opposition figure said.

Mubarak al-Fadil, head of the disbanded Umma Renewal and Reform Party (URRP), and a former candidate for Sudanese Presidency (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Mubarak al-Fadil who in 2011 disbanded his party and rejoined the National Umma Party (NUP) said in a statement today that the provisions included in the 'New Dawn' were negotiated and agreed to by the signatories which included most major Sudanese opposition parties as well as armed movements fighting Khartoum on different fronts.

The charter aggravated the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) as it called for toppling the regime which came to power in a bloodless coup more than two decades ago.

Sudanese officials also fiercely attacked the agreement saying it is an attempt to sideline religion in the country and install a secular state.

The relation between the religion and state in Sudan has long been a sensitive and in some cases a taboo topic. The Islamist-backed NCP has persistently accused opposition parties including non-armed ones of supporting separation between religion and the state.

President Omer Hassan al-Bashir this week threatened to ban those parties which signed the charter.

So far the NUP, Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) and Popular Congress Party (PCP) appear to have backtracked on the deal for which they signed up for.

Reasons for reservations mentioned later ranged from opposing certain clauses to saying that they were rushed into signing it.

But al-Fadil suggested that these opposition parties are seeking excuses to "disown" what they signed.

"I say to the leaders of the parties whose representatives stamped this document with their authorization, consent and full coordination that this document is open for improvement [in line] with resolution of the closing meeting," he said in a statement titled 'The Final Opportunity Document, Background and Secrets'.

"So do not waste time and use these minutiae details to escape from the national responsibility. Our people are dying in the thousands every day and our country is burning and disintegrating not only through the civil war but by Ingaz [nickname for government] policies that have brought poverty, hunger and disease," he added.

"You [opposition leaders] should seize this last chance and be in front of the ranks to lead the popular revolution to overthrow the regime or step aside to give way to those who are capable the of leadership and sacrifice as there is no struggle without sacrifice," Al-Fadil wrote.

On the issue of religion Al-Fadil said that the 'New Dawn' simply re-endorsed the 1995 Asmara Declaration drafted by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which agreed to disallow the exploitation of religion in politics.

This would be attained through prohibiting any legislation that conflicts with equal citizenship rights or international human right conventions.

He mentioned that this was agreed to by NUP leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi in 1996 and all opposition parties that are now members of the National Consensus Forces (NCF).

Al-Fadil said the confusion and controversy was a result of a clause inserted in the charter by the armed groups which separates religious institutions from state institutions.

The opposition figure said that the NCP used this to portray the charter as a secular one.

He disclosed that it was explained to the armed movements that this item will not serve the goal of banning the use of religion in politics as religious institutions are run by the state.

However after the representatives consulted with their parties inside Sudan they agreed to include it.

Al-Fadil also dismissed the NCP assertions that the charter calls for undermining state saying that the 'New Dawn' calls for restructuring the army and security services to guarantee its "professional and neutral" role.

He said that the means for changing the current regime were left to be determined by each signatory whether it be armed or peaceful adding that the armed movements did not oppose the popular struggle as a way to remove the NCP-led government.

Al-Fadil addressed the Sudanese president and the NCP saying that the unity of political opposition and armed movements is the only safeguard against further partitioning of the country.

"There is no longer room for maneuver or use of old already-tested and worn methods of arrest and intimidation and the threat to dissolve parties. If you [decide to] go down this route and returned back to square one then the result would be to push all the political forces in the direction of armed action as has happened in Libya and Syria," he warned.

"This is the last chance for peaceful transition before explosion of the revolution. Either accept the consensus of the people of Sudan in this document and work on voluntary transfer of power to the people through the armed forces, as happened in Egypt and Tunisia, Yemen or either face the Sudanese people in their entirety and surely the will of the people is invincible," Al-Fadil said.

The separation of Sudan in July 2011 into north and south has angered many within the country including those in the NCP and army who view it as the government's biggest failure to preserve the unity of the country.

The loss of oil which mostly exists in South Sudan has thrown the country into an economic crisis as the flow of revenue and foreign currency dropped sharply causing a large decline in value of the currency and double digit inflation rates,

Furthermore, the 'Arab Spring' revolutions have put more pressure on Khartoum to move into the direction of reforms. The NCP and Islamist base of the party have circulated unsigned memos calling for reforms in the state and the party.

In recent months however the government have stepped up its crackdown on newspapers and closed several pro-democracy centers.

Last November the Sudanese authorities announced that it thwarted a coup attempt planned by former spy chief and presidential adviser Salah Gosh along with dozens of army and security officers who are pro-regime.

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