Sudan's Opposition Umma Party Urges Egypt, Libya to Push Peace Efforts
The Sudanese opposition Umma Party on Tuesday asked Egypt and Libya to pressure neighboring countries to back peace efforts in Sudan and to close their borders to anti-government operations, reported AFP.
In a statement distributed on the sidelines of a press conference by its chief Sadeq Al Mahdi, the party urged east African states to support the peace process in Sudan and to close their borders with Sudan to prevent "acts of violence and fighting."
The party called in its statement for what it termed "a programmed" ceasefire, but did not elaborate.
It called for the abrogation of all laws that restrict freedoms and for removal of anything that might hamper the implementation of the proposals set forth by the Egyptian-Libyan initiative.
It also called for the quick formation of a transitional government including all political parties and national groups.
In response to a question on whether he would accept the post of prime minister in the proposed transitional government, Mahdi said he would not assume any executive position in such a government. "I will only take up a position I am elected to," he vowed.
Mahdi was democratically elected in 1985 but was ousted by the current president, Omar Al Beshir, in 1989.
Defending self-determination for south Sudan, Mahdi said "the distrust" between the southerners and northerners "will deepen" if the northern parties retracted their support for this demand.
He was referring to resolutions by opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), to which his party is still committed, and to the government's 1997 peace accord with south Sudanese factions that was incorporated into the Constitution, which all voiced commitment to self-determination for southern Sudan.
"Our rejection of this right with Arab support will certainly lead to secession and ultimately to an endless African-Arab confrontation and to another war," said Mahdi, adding: "The shortest path to unity is through self-determination."
Meanwhile, another leading Sudanese opposition party welcomed the new version of an initiative by Libya and Egypt to mediate Sudan's 18-year-old civil war.
The peace plan was accepted by the Khartoum government and its southern and northern opponents.
The Popular National Congress, led by the radical Islamist scholar and former National Assembly speaker Hassan Al Turabi, said the joint initiative presented a "historic and rare opportunity" to end the civil war that has torn apart Africa's largest country, according to a report by United Press International (UPI).
The Egyptian-Libyan peace initiative calls for the resumption of the stalled peace process, the formation of a transitional cabinet of all political forces, specifying dates and arrangements for new general elections, and an immediate end to all forms of hostilities in a bid to achieve national reconciliation in Sudan.
In a statement issued in Khartoum, the PNC was quoted by the agency as saying the Libyan-Egyptian initiative "has offered an historic and rare opportunity that should be seized in sincerity and honesty for salvaging the country from collapse and disintegration."
The statement added that it "provides the most acceptable and respected way out of the political, economic, security and social crises that surround the Sudan and threaten its existence, security and future."
The PNC, however, was not invited by either Egyptian or Libyan officials to take part in the proposed dialogue. The statement cautioned against the exclusion of "any organization, be it of a heavy or light weight."
The Egyptian government accuses Turabi of masterminding an assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak while he was attending an Organization of African Unity summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in 1995.
Turabi is now under detention, following a power struggle between himself and President Omar Al Bashir, which climaxed in December 1999, when Turabi was ousted from his influential position as parliament speaker.
A succession of Islamist governments has been attempting to put down a rebellion begun in 1983 by the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army, headed by Col. John Garang.
The SPLA is resisting attempts by the Khartoum government to impose the Islamic laws known as Sharia across the country. Southern Sudan is occupied by mainly Christian and animist peoples, while the northern half of the country is dominated mainly by Arabized Muslims.
The SPLA has changed its goals to include the fight for semi- or full autonomy from the north, and has recently captured a number of key towns in the southern Bahr Al Ghazal region.
The Sudanese government has warned that the army will resume air strikes in the south against SPLA positions, something it had suspended since May.
Meanwhile, the Arab League on Monday welcomed the acceptance of the Egyptian-Libyan peace initiative by the parties in Sudan, describing it as a "positive" development, said UPI.
In l999, Egypt and Libya first proposed an initiative that called for a national conference to be attended by the Sudanese government, all opposition groups in the north and the SPLA – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)