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NUP Leader Returns to Sudan, Welcoming an Era of Dialogue | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Sudan’s former prime minister and opposition politician Sadiq al-Mahdi (R) waves to protesters during a demonstration, in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, July 21, 2006. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin

Khartoum- Leader of Sudan’s opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi returned to Sudan on Thursday after spending two years in exile, telling his supporters that he has returned to carry on efforts of constructive national dialogue and achieve peace and democracy.

“I have returned to the country to stop war, achieve peace and set up democracy and restitution of rights,” Mahdi said speaking to droves of his supporters.

The opposition leader gave a speech at a public square after leaving the Khartoum airport. More so, Mahdi, who heads one of Sudan’s oldest political parties, was the country’s last democratically elected prime minister.

He was overthrown in 1989 by an alliance of Islamists and military commanders that still form the core of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s all-powerful National Congress Party.

In a statement in November Mahdi had called for a three-day nationwide strike against Bashir’s regime, amid mounting anger over fuel subsidy cuts and other economic problems.

“I will work to fight extremist groups and revive moderate Islam,” he said.
Around 6,000 of his supporters raised his party’s flag and chanted to welcome him.

Concerning his political future, Mahdi told his supporters that he does not wish to hold his post as NUP leader, or to continue practicing political action.

He further commended the recent U.S. decision of easing sanctions on Sudan, saying that “the first beneficiary of lifting the sanctions is the Sudanese people.”

He urged the Sudanese government to fully respond to the U.S. offers for complete lifting of the sanctions. Former president Barack Obama had announced the lifting of some economic sanctions.

Sudan has been subject to a U.S. trade embargo since 1997.