The president of Sudan’s National Umma Party, the most prominent opposition group in the country, called on Saturday for the formation of “a national government of technocrats” that is not dominated by one party. Sadiq Al-Mahdi made his suggestion at his party’s annual Iftar (fast-breaking) gathering.
“No party should be excluded,” he insisted, “and different political groups should be represented, even symbolically.” Such a government, explained Al-Mahdi, would be able to work on reaching a settlement with the International Criminal Court that the UN Security Council can accept.
This was a direct reference to the decision by the ICC, based in The Hague, to accuse Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir of “crimes against humanity and genocide” in Darfur. Bashir refuses to even acknowledge the court’s legitimacy, and believes that it is nothing but a “colonial” apparatus directed against Sudan and other African countries. Khartoum has also repeatedly denied the ICC accusations.
One of the tasks of such a technocrat government, said Al-Mahdi, would be to build up a system for transitional justice through a court or truth and justice commission. It would, he added, cancel the national debt and work toward getting Sudan removed from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
Former US President Barack Obama issued a decree in January to exempt Khartoum from economic sanctions imposed 20 years ago. The decree was signed during the last week of Obama’s time in the White House and kept Sudan on the list of countries that have been supporting terrorism and retained certain military sanctions.
According to Al-Mahdi, an objective interpretation shows that the US conditions for exemption from the sanctions are not clear. “In addition to the five demands, there are other demands that are detailed by the spokesman of the US Department of State that require a wider scope of political freedoms,” he noted.
The five demands included Sudan’s cooperation with Washington in fighting terrorism and contributing to achieving peace in southern Sudan. There is also a humanitarian aspect over delivering aid to those who are affected by war and conflict in Sudan.
“The security challenges in the conflict zones will only end with the signing of a serious political agreement,” Al-Mahdi pointed out. “The circulation of lethal weapons among non-state actors nurtured by tribal fundamentalism is a major threat to national security.”
Since 2003, three armed rebel movements have been fighting against the Sudanese government in Darfur. According to the UN, 300,000 people have been killed in the violence and 2.5 million people have been displaced, out of a total regional population of 7 million. Khartoum, however, claims that there have been no more than 10,000 casualties.
Since June 2011, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – North Sector, has been fighting against the government in the two provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.