Sudan rivals Bashir and Turabi end 15 year silence

President Omar al-Bashir and Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi agreed that "dialogue should involve all political powers, which should be given the opportunity to determine its mechanisms, agenda and timeframe."

Sudan rivals Bashir and Turabi end 15 year silence

World Bulletin / News Desk

President Omar al-Bashir and Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi – his ally-turned-rival – agreed Friday that political dialogue should include all parties, regardless of their influence in Sudan's political arena.

The two sides agreed that "dialogue should involve all political powers, which should be given the opportunity to determine its mechanisms, agenda and timeframe," Mustafa Othman of al-Bashir's National Congress Party told a press conference after the meeting between the two figures – which was the first in 15 years.

Bashir Adam Rahma, head of foreign relations in al-Turabi's Popular Congress Party (PCP), told the press briefing that the two sides had agreed that the dialogue's details would be worked out at a meeting bringing together all the country's political parties.

The call should be extended to all stakeholders, including armed groups, civil society organizations, independent figures, and youth movements, he said.

The PCP accepted the invitation for dialogue because it represented "the best way to solve the country's problems," he added.

The two leaders haven't officially met since 1999, with al-Turabi since having become one of al-Bashir's most vocal critics.

Al-Turabi, who formerly served as minister of both justice and foreign affairs, is considered the founder of Sudan's Islamist movement and the architect of the 1989 military coup that brought al-Bashir – then a military commander – to power.

Kamal Omar, a leader of the PCP, told Anadolu Agency that al-Turabi would lead a 12-member delegation from the party, including two deputies, at Friday's meeting with al-Bashir.

In late January, al-Bashir presented his government partners with a proposed program for political reform.

Omar said the meeting would tackle the four pillars of al-Bashir's political reform plan, which include scrapping laws restricting personal freedoms; releasing political detainees; investigating the death of anti-austerity protesters; and holding unconditional talks with regional militant groups.

The PCP, a major opposition force in Sudan, had earlier expressed its readiness to participate in dialogue, but has demanded the formation of an "inclusive" transitional government as a pre-condition.

Sudan has remained on edge since the government announced a raft of austerity measures last September, including a major reduction of fuel subsidies. The move was aimed at reining in a widening budget deficit and curbing government spending.

The measures, however, ended up triggering mass protests in several Sudanese cities.

Last Mod: 15 Mart 2014, 13:46
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