The opposition Reform Now Party (RNP) accused Sudanese security agents of preventing it from holding a discussion forum on Monday, the day after President Omar Al Bashir announced political parties have the freedom to operate.
The RNP said in a press release that National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) agents blocked two of its top leaders and others from entering El Ahlia University in Omdurman to attend the party forum. It was unable to take place, despite obtaining prior permission. Then they attacked and arrested Emad El Dien Hashim, the leader of the party's student wing, according to a AFP report on the party's statement.
"This raises two possibilities: either these security agents are working outside the president's control, or they have an agenda against the dialogue", the statement read.
In a televised address to the nation in January, President Al Bashir announced his initiative for a national dialogue with all parties, including rebel movements. They are supposed to discuss a four-point reform plan for Sudan: to stop the war, free political society, fight against poverty, and revitalise the national identity.
However, Sudan’s opposition umbrella organisations, the National Consensus Forces and the rebel Sudan Revolutionary Front, renewed their call for an independent body to facilitate this national dialogue, in a joint statement on Tuesday. A group of 17 political parties of the NCF did not respond to Al Bashir’s call for a national dialogue, and boycotted a consultative meeting on Sunday.
During a political round table on Sunday with 83 political parties on Sunday, Al Bashir directed authorities across Sudan to enable political parties to carry out their activities without restrictions, except those dictated by the law. Bashir also ordered the release of political detainees “who have not been found involved in criminal acts”, to enhance press freedom. Finally, he stressed the government's willingness to allow the rebels' safe participation in the national dialogue.
The President stated in his keynote address that the meeting on Sunday is the first step towards the comprehensive national dialogue, as well as an agreement on the primary principles to guide the dialogue.
File photo: During the national address of President Omar Al Bashir in January 2014.andnbsp;From left to right: Leader of the Popular Congress Party, Reform Now Party (RNP) head Ghazi Salah El Deen El Attabani, the head of the National Umma Party, and Sudan's Second Vice President (Suna)