The leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) in Sudan has said that he will exert every possible effort to contain the differences within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N). Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi made his comments in the wake of the resignation of SPLM-N deputy chairman Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu over differences in the national leadership council. In a 12-page resignation letter published on social media earlier this month, Al-Hilu said that the differences were not “minor” but had become “fundamental and principled.”
Al-Mahdi told reporters on Monday that some people have spoken with “malicious joy” about the differences within the SPLM-N. He believes that they are seeking to capitalise on the organisational problems to destroy the movement. Describing this behaviour as “harmful”, he said that the NUP “will do everything it can to contain the crisis.”
The veteran politician added that the Sudanese government should not exploit divisions within the political opposition forces, but should instead work towards a comprehensive solution to the country’s problems. Al-Mahdi downplayed any attempts to exclude the SPLM-N from a political role and said that the best move now is to bring the group into the peace process to play a part in resolving the national crisis. He pointed out that public freedoms, reducing the powers of the security apparatus and committing to the African roadmap for peace and dialogue in Sudan are the best ways to overcome the economic and political difficulties facing the country.
The NUP and SPLM-N are members of the opposition alliance, Sudan Call, which was established in Addis Ababa on 3 December 2014 and includes several political parties, armed movements and civil society organisations. The Sudanese government and Sudan Call signed a Roadmap Agreement in March and August 2016 brokered by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, and agreed to work together to bring peace to the country. However, the parties failed to sign cessation of hostilities and humanitarian agreements that were crucial to move forward with the roadmap implementation process.
Al-Mahdi has recently returned to Sudan after two years in exile. His ties with the SPLM/N, officially designated as an “illegal” party by the Sudanese government, threatened his relationship with Khartoum, which is fighting in an armed conflict with the movement in the South Kordofan and Damazin areas.
Recent concessions by the government in Khartoum have allowed for greater political freedoms and led to the release of 257 political prisoners held by the Sudanese authorities, as well as the release of 127 prisoners by the SPLM/N.