January 29, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq al-Mahdi Monday said he and the other opposition groups invited to meet the African Union mediators have agreed to request the postponement of the consultative meeting to a later date.
Al-Mahdi and the other opposition leaders participating in the African Union process for peace and democratic reforms in Sudan have been invited by the mediation for a consultations meeting to discuss the roadmap agreement signed in August 2016 and to consider ways to develop it.
The consultations are not associated to the talks between the government and the SPLM-N led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu for a cessation of hostilities agreement.
The Sudan Call parties in Khartoum voiced their opposition to the individual meetings pointing that it would take place while the government detains several opposition leaders from the Sudanese Congress Party, NUP and Sudanese Communist Party.
Also, al-Mahdi has been criticised for accepting the invitation.
In a statement he issued on Monday morning, the leader of the largest opposition party said he accepted the invitation with the intention to brief the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) about the “catastrophic developments” in Sudan.
However, after consultations with the other opposition leaders, he said they agreed to call for the postponement of the meeting for two reasons:
“The first is the confusion that occurred in the extension of the invitation and its delayed arrival.
“The second is the current situation in Sudan with the suppression of freedoms and the expansion of arbitrary arrests in contradiction to any agreed commitments to resume any kind of consultations,” said the statement.
Al-Mahdi added that he told his partners in the opposition Sudan Call forces he would travel to Addis Ababa to meet the African Union; the AUHIP and international community officials who facilitate the process to brief them about the situation in the country.
Also, he will ask them to “support the rights of the Sudanese people to peacefully express their views and demands,” he stressed.
Al-Mahdi further said he would ask them “to postpone the consultations to a later date so that the meeting is attended by all concerned (stakeholders) and it would be held after guaranteeing a favourable atmosphere”.
The opposition groups plan to hold a protest against the rising prices on the 31 January.
The SPLM-N Agar protested against its exclusion from the talks on a cessation of hostilities agreement in the Two Areas with the SPLM-N al-Hilu faction.
The government officials focus on the security talks on the Two Areas and expressed optimism that a cessation of hostilities be signed very soon, as it does not include the delicate humanitarian access issue.
The mediations plan to bring the humanitarian file on the negotiating table once the truce is observed by the parties, in the near future, so that the parties can discuss the matter with some confidence.