Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of Sudan’s opposition Ummah Party and former prime minister, has asserted that the election of the ruling Sudanese National Congress Party [NCP] led by President Omar al-Bashir in the elections scheduled for next April means the hostile secession of south Sudan.
Al-Mahdi, who is visiting Cairo at present, said in statements to Asharq Al-Awsat that the election of the NCP would carry the hostile spirit in its confrontation with the People’s Movement [SPLM] into the future and the situations in Darfur would deteriorate further, there would be polarization in the political forces because the NCP’s policy is one of exclusion, and there would also be a confrontation with the international community because the NCP had ended any talk about the International Criminal Court which is backed by the United States, Europe, and more than 106 countries which recognize and deal with it. He added that this means that the Sudanese people would be paying the price for the confrontation with the international community.
Asked about his expectations of the future of the south in view of the growing dispute between the SPLM and NCP, Al-Mahdi said: “I believe southern public opinion would reject unity if it thought that it would be a continuation of what is happening in the south at present, especially as security is deteriorating and there are major tribal conflicts in the south.” He added: “But there is the possibility in the south for a new discourse which stresses firstly that unity can be different from its present nature and that the historic southern complaints of injustice might be dealt with by the political forces which believe in democracy and are qualified to make unity attractive. If it becomes evident that the brothers in the south have turned away totally from unity, then these [political forces] are qualified to conclude an agreement which makes the secession brotherly.”
As to relations with the NCP at present, Al-Mahdi said”there is a real disagreement between them and us because the NCP represents the notion of extending the salvation and represents legitimacy for the coupist method and for continuing the situations as they are now while we represent something different. We represent democratic legitimacy. There are additionally two different programs. We therefore believe that there are national issues over which there has to be an understanding.”
Al-Mahdi went on to say: “The elections commission in Sudan is trying to play a neutral and patriotic role but the political forces have prepared to monitor all the measures to ensure their honesty even though they have found so far illegal conducts and negated them.” He pointed out that the period for registering for the elections, which is November, is narrow because it is the harvest month and the month of pilgrimage and feast. All these preoccupations necessitate extending the registration period until the end of December.
But the Sudanese opposition leader considered the current environment in the country unhealthy in view of the cold and overt war between the two ruling partners, the NCP and SPLM, said this confirms there is a bad environment for holding the elections, and pointed out that the NCP’s behavior is one of stubbornness and unilateral action and does not want to respond to the others’ visions. He added that he has called for a summit meeting of the leaders of the country’s main political forces to agree on changing the political environment and holding the elections in the right atmosphere and this can help remove the bitter feelings prevailing at present. He warned that “fixed” elections, like those in several countries, would immediately violent actions to break out, like those which happened in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and many other areas, and said: “The elections’ honesty must be ensured so that they do not lead to violent collisions and clashes.”