Some 14 political parties and civil society organisations signed the Sudan Appeal and the Joint Action Charter on Saturday.
Representatives of opposition parties and the civil society met at the house of the late former president of Sudan (1964-1969), Ismail El Azhari, in Omdurman, the sister city of Khartoum. They decided to symbolically add their signatures to the two documents, in solidarity with the National Umma Party (NUP), charged by the security apparatus of cooperating with the rebel movements; El Sadig El Mahdi, NUP leader; Faroug Abu Eisa, head of the National Consensus Forces; Dr Amin Mekki Madani, chairman of the Civil Society Initiative, and Farah El Agar, legal consultant of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North.
Abu Eisa, Madani, and El Agar were detained on 6 December, after their return from Addis Ababa, where they had signed the Sudan Appeal three days before, together with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, an alliance of the main rebel movements). El Mahdi has not returned to his home country since he signed the Paris Declaration, a precursor of the Sudan Appeal, with the SRF in the French capital on 8 August 2014.
In the two-page Sudan Appeal document, the allied opposition forces call for the ending of the civil wars in the country, the dismantling of the one-party system, and the rebuilding of Sudan based on democratic principles and equal citizenship. The signatories agree that if a peaceful regime change cannot be achieved by a broad national dialogue, it should be enforced by a popular uprising. The Joint Action Charter was not much later added to the Sudan Appeal.
According to the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the signing of the Sudan Appeal constitutes the “undermining the constitutional order, and the violently opposing of the authorities”, which are charges punishable with the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Mohamed Mukhtar El Khateeb, Secretary-General of the Sudanese Communist Party told Dabanga that the meeting at the house of El Azhari on Saturday addressed the current political situation, the recent constitutional amendments, the upcoming elections, and the escalation of the military operations in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.
The secretary-general said that the constitutional amendments “strengthen the one-party regime and the ruling by individuals”. “The government’s policies are diametrically opposed to the demands of the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties) concerning democracy, freedoms, the ending of the civil wars, and allowing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilians in the war affected areas. This ruling regime, however, opted for a military solution instead of a political one.”
According to Yahya El Hussein, prominent member of the Arab Baath Socialist Party, the recent constitutional amendments mean the “termination of the National Dialogue, proposed by President Al Bashir in January last year”. “The Sudanese government just attempts to appear willing to engage in a dialogue with the opposition before the regional and international community.”
He added that the Baath Party’s refusal to join the upcoming April general elections does not mean that they will remain silent. “The next step will be the activation of what has been agreed upon in the Joint Action Plan: the establishment of a broad mechanism to oppose the government’s policies, and the holding of an extended meeting with all signatories of the Sudan Appeal and the Action Charter, including all opposition parties and civil society organisations”.
“We will resort to peaceful means, such as strikes and sit-ins, though the government certainly will respond angrily to such actions.”
The representative of Women in Political Parties, Intisar El Agali, stressed to Dabanga the peaceful nature of the Sudanese opposition parties’ and civil society’s resistance.
Members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) who oppose their leader’s decision to join the elections, Dr Mohamed Mahjoub of the Liberal Unionists faction, Jala El Azhari, representative of the United Democratic Unionist faction, and Dr Abdelrahim Abdallah, member of the “DUP Interim Leadership” also symbolically signed the Sudan Appeal in Omdurman.
Abdallah told Dabanga that “the chronic crises in Sudan, and the rigid grip of the country by one party that led to rampant corruption, the waste of the country’s resources of the country, the restriction on freedoms, and the deterioration of education and health services, have to be resolved as soon as possible”.
He said that the next step will be “to pressure the regime, and force it to respond to the demands of the opposition”. “If this does not work, we will resort to peaceful means, such as strikes and sit-ins, though the government certainly will respond angrily to such actions.”