Egypt: Umma Party Leader Barred From Entering Egypt

Omdurman / Berlin — The authorities at Cairo National Airport denied El Sadig El Mahdi, president of the National Umma Party (NUP) and chairman of the Sudan Call forces, access to Egypt on Saturday.

The German government had invited the leaders of the Sudan Call, a coalition of Sudanese opposition parties and armed movements, to discuss a proposal to solve the peace talks impasse on Friday.

Upon his return from Berlin, the opposition leader was prevented from entering Cairo, where he resides. On Sunday, El Mahdi travelled to London, accompanied by his daughter and deputy Maryam El Sadig, and secretary Mohamed Zaki, who had also participated in the meetings.

The NUP leaders expressed their surprise that "this strange measure was taken after successful meetings that may activate the Sudanese peace process and bring stability to the country".

They said in a statement on Sunday that the Egyptian authorities had earlier asked El Mahdi not to participate in the Berlin meetings - which he refused "as the NUP rejects any foreign dictates in the internal affairs of Sudan".

Mohamed El Mahdi Hasan, head of the NUP Political Bureau of the Umma Party, described the Egyptian decision to Radio Dabanga as "arbitrary that would deeply affect the future of Sudanese-Egyptian relations".

In a statement on behalf of the Sudan Call opposition alliance, Minni Minawi, head of the Sudan Liberation Movement-MM, said that the Egyptian authorities responded to pressure from the Sudanese regime.

Sudan Call

The Sudan Call (or Sudan Appeal), a two-page political communiqué calling for regime-change and democracy, was signed by representatives of the NUP, the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties), the Civil Society Initiative, and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, an alliance of the main rebel movements) in Addis Ababa on 3 December 2014. Other Sudanese opposition groups and parties joined them in the following year.

After signing the Sudan Call document, the chairmen of the NCF and the Civil Society Initiative, and the legal consultant of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North were detained by the National Security and Intelligence Service (NISS) upon their return to Khartoum on 6 December 2014. They were released on 9 April the following year, a few days before the general election would begin in the country.

El Mahdi remained abroad in a self-imposed exile until early 2017. On his return to the Sudanese capital, he was welcomed by a huge crowd of supporters.

In March this year, the group convened in the French capital. They agreed on mobilising the people in Sudan for a popular uprising. At the same time, the allied opposition forces will respond to initiatives of the international community and the African Union to revive the roadmap for the Sudanese peace talks based on AU resolutions.

In an interview with El Sudani newspaper on March 22, President Omar Al Bashir announced his intention to sue the members of the Sudan Call for cooperating with Sudan's armed movements. "This is not allowed by the law, it is not possible to combine military activity and political action," he said. "So we repeat that the law applies to any party enters that into an alliance with groups carrying arms."

Sudan's State Security Prosecution instructed in early April that a complaint be filed against the NUP leader "for dealing and coordinating with rebel armed movements to overthrow the regime."

On May 16, NISS agents barred NUP Secretary-General Sara Nugdallah from travelling abroad. She planned to fly to Cairo to see her doctor, and proceed to Paris where she would join meetings of the Sudan Call leaders.

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