9 May 2014

Sudan: Government Hints At Possible Delay to 2015 Elections

Khartoum — Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour said it is possible that upcoming general elections scheduled for next year may be delayed if political forces taking part in the national dialogue process agreed to it.

Ghandour, on a talk show broadcast by the state-run Radio Omdurman on Friday, urged opposition parties to abandon the political tactics approach and join the national dialogue process.

He added that delaying general elections is a constitutional matter that must be decided by the National Elections Commission (NEC), emphasizing to the need for discussing the issue in the national dialogue.

Earlier this month, the NEC approved plans to prepare for the general elections slated for next year.

The electoral body held a meeting to review arrangements made for the 2015 elections and announced that a training session will be held later this month in Port Sudan for poll with funding from the European Union (EU) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Opposition parties taking part in the national dialogue process called for by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir earlier this year insist that elections be postponed if the dialogue is to be fruitful.

But the NEC affirmed that their work and timetable is governed by the 2008 elections law unless changes are introduced to it.

Meanwhile, the ruling National Congress Party's (NCP) political secretary, Mustafa Osman Ismail, on Thursday accused the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) and the Arab Ba'ath Party (ABP) of obstructing national dialogue.

"We will not link dialogue to the opinion of one or two parties after affirming that they do not want to join it ," the NCP Political Secretary Mustafa Osman Ismail told the pro-government Ashorooq TV.

Ismail said that these parties are turning their conditions to participate in the dialogue into a blackmail aimed at disrupting it from the viewpoint that they have no interest in its success.

He noted that the NCP responded positively to the logical prerequisites set by these parties such as the allowing political and press freedoms, releasing political detainees and providing the required guarantees for the rebels to participate in the dialogue .

The NCP official also criticized demands that the government announce a ceasefire stressing that this cannot be unilateral step. He nonetheless expressed the government's readiness to enter into a truce and negotiations with the rebels.

Ismail said they want the political parties which agreed to take part in the dialogue be convinced that SCP and ABP work against the national dialogue due to foreign links, adding when we reach that point we wouldn't wait for one or two parties who which to obstruct the dialogue.

He also expressed skepticism over the SCP claim that is being subjected to pressure from political parties, and organizations and foreign embassies to engage in the national dialogue without creating a conducive environment.

The SCP said it will not succumb to such pressures which aims to maintain the regime in power and preserve the interests of those linked to it.

Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalizing national identity.

Last month, he held a political roundtable in Khartoum with the participation of 83 political parties. The opposition National Umma Party (NUP) and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) are the only major opposition parties to accept Bashir's call for national dialogue so far.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.

The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.

Bashir instructed authorities in the states and localities across Sudan to enable political parties to carry out their activities inside and outside their headquarters without restrictions except those dictated by the law.

The Sudanese president also pledged to enhance press freedom so that it can play its role in the success of the national dialogue unconditionally as long they abide by the norms of the profession.

Political detainees who have not been found to be involved in criminal acts will be released, Bashir said.

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