Bashir extends olive branch to rivals to join 'New Sudan' govt

Tuesday October 11 2016

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir at the Saha Alkhadia Park in Khartoum on October 11, 2016. PHOTO | FRED OLUOCH

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has extended an olive branch to opposition parties and rebel groups that failed to sign the October 10 national dialogue agreement.

President Bashir, who has declared that he would leave office in 2020 after coming to power in 1989, also said he had prolonged the unilateral cessation of hostilities in the war zones for another two months.

The Sudanese leader was speaking Tuesday at Saha Alkhadia Park in Khartoum where he reiterated that a national mechanism would be established to draft a new constitution.

The 72-year-old Bashir said the extension of the ceasefire until December, was to create a climate conducive for dialogue and peace, and that the national dialogue agreement would remain open for the opposition groups that were still opposed to his approach to the political crisis.

A total of 90 political parties and 34 armed movements --most of them splinter groups-- participated in the national dialogue that started in 2014 and was officially closed on Tuesday after parties signed the declarations.

Former prime minister and leader of the National Umma party (NUM), Sadique al-Mahdi, is one of the leading opposition members who did not join the dialogue.


READ: Sudanese opposition rebuffs unity government call

Although a splinter group of NUM led by Mr Mubarak al-Mahdi participated in the conference, the former prime minister remains in exile in Cairo, Egypt.

But even as President Bashir who hosted five regional heads of state in Khartoum to witness a landmark in Sudan's politics, ethnic tension flared up in east Jebel Marra in Darfur between farmers and pastoralists, displacing hundreds.

Sudan was still struggling with rebellion in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile.

The rebels still holding out include the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) and three Darfur-based rebel group--the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA-AW).