El Sadig El Mahdi (L), Dr Amin Mekki Madani (C), and Minni Minawi (R) after the signing of the Sudan Appeal in Addis Ababa on 3 December 2014 (SRF)
The head of the defence team of Sudan Appeal signatories Faroug Abu Eisa, head of the National Consensus Forces, and Dr Amin Mekki Madani, a prominent human rights lawyer and chairman of the Civil Society Initiative, accused the Sudanese authorities of holding the detainees as hostages, to force the continuation of the troubled National Dialogue.
“The National Dialogue parties could demand their release as interlocutors,” lawyer Omar Abdelaati said at a press conference in Khartoum on Tuesday. He explained that “the hands of the Minister of Justice are tied. The Minister has no authority to start litigation.”
He stated that the authorities “are keeping Abu Eisa and Madani in jail to discipline and humiliate them,” stressing that “they would not dare to take them to trial. But if they do, they will meet a most convincing and fierce defence,” he threatened.
The defence lawyer emphasised that the two detained lawyers have a “monumental record in defending the rights of the people in Sudan. They signed a political communiqué calling for regime-change and democracy, not aiming to confront the regime with an armed insurgency”.
Abdelaati furthermore blamed the Minister of Justice, Mohamed Bushara Dosa, for refusing to allow Dr Madani to attend the wedding of his son last week. “With this rejection, the authorities broke with Sudanese traditions inherited from ancient times.”
According to the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) that filed the complaint against Abu Eisa and Madani, the signing of the Sudan Appeal constitutes the “undermining the constitutional order, and instigating war against the state, offences that carry the death penalty or life imprisonment.”
The prosecution is preparing a request for Interpol to issue an arrest warrant for the two other signatories, El Sadig El Mahdi, chairman of the National Umma Party (NUP), and Minni Minawi, co-vice president of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an alliance of the main rebel movements, who remain abroad.
The NISS has also demanded action against the NUP, for violating the Political Parties Act and the 2005 Interim Constitution, that prohibit registered parties to cooperate with armed rebel movements.
The Sudan Appeal was signed on 3 December last year in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. In the communiqué, the united 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 agreed that if a peaceful regime change cannot be achieved by a broad national dialogue, it should be enforced by a popular uprising.
On Monday, they launched their popular campaign in Khartoum under the slogan “Leave!”.
“The campaign aims at collecting signatures from citizens all over the country, on the ground and through the internet, to support the call for the departure of the regime that has brought us 25 years of corruption and misery,” Rabah El Sadig El Mahdi of the NUP explained to Dabanga.
Earlier this week, former Presidential Advisor Dr Nafi Ali Nafi warned the opposition against “obstructing citizens from voting in the upcoming April elections”.