Sudanís NCP to Offer Opposition Government Posts (Update1)
By Maram Mazen
April 14 (Bloomberg) -- Sudanese President Umar al-Bashirís National Congress Party will offer opposition figures government posts if it wins the countryís first multiparty elections in 24 years, presidential adviser Ghazi Salaheddine Atabani said.
ďWe would extend the invitation to all parties, even those who have not participated in the elections, to join the government, because we believe this is a critical moment in our history,Ē he told reporters today in Khartoum, the capital.
Most of the main opposition parties boycotted the election because they said the government restricted free speech, used state resources for Bashirís campaign and intimidated opponents. The elections for the presidency, parliament and state offices are set to end tomorrow after the National Elections Commission extended balloting to five days from three.
Bashir, 66, who came to power in a 1989 coup, has been charged by the International Criminal Court with responsibility for war crimes in the western Darfur region. The elections are part of the U.S.-brokered 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a 21-year war between north and south Sudan.
ďWeíre facing important decisions like self determination in the south and weíd like to garner as much support and as much consensus as we can,Ē Atabani said.
Southern Sudan is scheduled to vote in a January referendum whether to become an independent nation.
As a result of a seven-year-old conflict in the Darfur region as many as 300,000 people have died, mainly through illness and starvation, and more than 2 million have fled their homes, according to United Nations estimates. The government puts the death toll at 10,000.
Among Bashirís challengers who pulled out of the race are Sudanís last elected leader, former Prime Minister and current Umma party leader Sadig al-Mahdi, and Yasser Arman, the candidate of the Sudan Peopleís Liberation Movement, or SPLM, the group that led the rebellion against the north.
The parties that will be asked to joint the government include Umma, as well as the Democratic Unionist Party, which came second behind the Umma party in Sudanís last multiparty vote in 1986, and the Popular Congress Party, Atabani said. Both the DUP and the PCP participated in the elections.
ďIf what Dr. Ghazi meant was to form a national unity government, we have no objection to that,Ē Fadl-Allah Burma, the Umma partyís vice president, said today by phone from Khartoum. ďSudanís problems have now become larger than any party could handle on its own.Ē
Sudan is sub-Saharan Africaís third-largest producer of crude oil, pumping about 480,000 barrels a day, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Most of the oil fields are in the south.
--Editors: Karl Maier, Paul Richardson
To contact the reporters on this story: Maram Mazen in Khartoum via Cairo at [email protected];