Beshir: Opposition Could Have Participated in Elections
Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir Monday criticized the opposition political parties for failing to turn up for participation in the forthcoming elections slated for next week.
Speaking at a news conference, Beshir said his government had previously postponed the elections for a year on request by the opposition parties, "but we cannot wait any longer".
He was speaking a day after reports that Sudan supreme court will consider a suit filed by opposition lawyers against the elections watchdog demanding general elections -- due December 11th-20th -- be called off, a court member and a lawyer said Sunday.
Beshir went on to defend the fact that 28 officials of the ruling National Congress had won parliamentary seats unopposed because of the absence of candidates from the opposition parties, saying that those parties had about two years during which they could have reorganised and prepared themselves for the presidential and legislative elections.
"The Constitution has granted the right to freedom of association two years ago which was ample time for the parties to organize themselves and it is not our fault if some parties had failed to do so and we cannot delay our programs for ever," said Beshir.
"This will not be the last election and we hope the political parties will be ready for another election after four years," he added.
Beshir has earlier declared that elected institutions would serve their full terms -- five years for the presidency and four for the parliament -- even if a reconciliation agreement is reached with the opposition.
Beshir has criticized opposition leader Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani for failure to play a positive role in leading the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), indicating that it would be difficult to conclude agreement with him.
"There is no guarantee that Mirghani will be able to convince the NDA parties of any agreement we may conclude with him," said Beshir, adding that Mirghani was not aware of the NDA military operations in Hameshkorib and Kassala in east Sudan.
"We do not know to what extent Mirghani will be able to make the Alliance committed to any concluded agreement," Beshir wondered.
Introducing his new presidential program, Beshir said he would concentrate on achieving peace and work towards "voluntary unity through referendum" and, in the meantime, would "safeguard the transitional status of a united state of the north and south."
He said he would abide by "the grand national options, particularly the (Islamic) sharia-tradition legislation and citizenship-based rights and duties."
Beshir said he would work for safeguarding "our national security, enhancing relations with neighboring and Arab nations, continuing dialogue with the United States, protecting our vital interests and developing our water and energy resources."
He has pledged to broaden the community participation in decision-making, to upgrade a civil community role that is "equal to or greater than that of the state" and to establish "civil peace", in addition to working for "a cultural interaction among the country's diverse cultures." -- KHARTOUM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)