March 14, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has described the Berlin Declaration signed by the political and armed opposition groups as a “failure” considering it “as if it had not taken place”.
President Omer al-Bashir speaks to the press in Khartoum on 30 November 2014 (SUNA)
During the last week of February, the “Sudan Call” forces, including the Natioal Consensus Forces (NCF), the rebel umbrella Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF), National Umma Party (NUP) and civil society groups announced readiness to participate in a meeting with the Sudanese government to discuss requirements and procedures of the national dialogue.
The meeting which was sponsored by the German government also decided that the SRF and NUP will represent the “Sudan Call” forces, stressing that no dialogue can be held before implementing the confidence building measures provided in the African Union roadmap to facilitate the internal political process.
The Sudanese president told al-Ray al-Aam newspaper on Saturday they believe that “Berlin’s meeting was a failure and has not achieved the objectives sought by the Germans themselves and hence as if it had not taken place”.
He added the German government made efforts to support Sudan and help resolve its problems, pointing they held the Berlin meeting to achieve three goals including recognition of the legitimacy of the government by the opposition, participation of the opposition in the national dialogue and not to postpone the elections.
Bashir launched the national dialogue initiative a year ago in which he urged opposition parties and rebels alike to join the dialogue table to discuss all the pressing issues.
But the initiative faced serious setbacks after the government refusal to create suitable atmosphere by releasing political prisoners, ensuring freedoms, and postponement of elections.
The NUP led by al-Sadiq al-Mahdi withdrew from the process in protest of al-Mahdi’s arrest last May.
Later on, several political parties including the Reform Now Movement (RNM) led by Ghazi Salah al-Din and the Just Peace Forum (JPF) led by al-Tayeb Mustafa and the Alliance of the Peoples’ Working Forces (APWF) announced they had decided to suspend participation in the national dialogue until the requirements of a conducive environment are met.
However, the African Unity and the international community taught that the dialogue process can lead to end war and achieve a comprehensive political solution including all the political and military opposition forces.
This inclusive approach is seen better that separate peace agreement.
Bashir pointed they urged the German government to bring the opposition forces together, and underscored that the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) will not accept any understandings leading to recognising legitimacy of his government and will seek to abort the preparatory meeting.
He commended the late leader of the SCP, Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud, praising his Sudanism, patriotism and tolerance.
Bashir said he enjoyed his discussions with Nugud, pointing the latter “differs from the rest of communists”.
The Sudanese president further said the late communist leader expected he would win the previous presidential elections.
Bashir’s statements come a few days after the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) officially welcomed the Berlin Declaration and said it agrees to any meetings or understandings that would lead to everyone’s participation in the national dialogue.
The president said those who launched the “Leave” campaign have been talking about regime change since 1989, pointing his government is not afraid of them because it knows their weight.
“If they had the capability [to overthrow the regime], they would have done it long time ago”, he added.
Last month, the NCF launched a campaign under the slogan “Leave” to boycott April elections and encouraged citizens to sign up.
Bashir stressed that external support for the opposition has fallen back because it failed to topple the regime, pointing it also failed to take advantage of the opportunity which loomed during the protests which followed his government’s decision to lift fuel subsidies.
“We managed to extinguish the protests within 48 hours”, he said.
Protests erupted in Sudan’s major towns in September 2013 following an announcement by the government that it was reducing subsidies on fuel and other basic commodities, leading to calls for regime change.
The security forces attacked the peaceful demonstrations where at least 200 protesters died, 15 of them children and more than 800 others have been detained.