Last Updated: Wed Dec 29, 2010 13:11 pm (KSA) 10:11 am (GMT)

Sudan opposition leader gives govt month ultimatum


Sudanese opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi declared giving the government one month to respond to his demands and threatened to join the ranks of rebels if the deadline is not met.

Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party vowed to stop his efforts to appease factions of the opposition who want to engage in armed struggle and topple the regime and to quit the political scene altogether if the Sudanese government does respond to his demands for political reform, he said in a statement to Al Arabiya.

Mahdi’s demands, which also represent those of opposition in Sudan, revolve around the formation of a new national government, holding free elections, drafting a new constitution, and finding a solution for the Darfur problem.

Mahdi also called upon the government to pledge signing a twinning agreement between north and south Sudan in case secession takes place after the referendum scheduled for Jan. 9, 2011.

As part of the government’s attempts to ease the tension as the referendum draws near, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced his acceptance of the results even if they mean the separation of the north and south.

North-South pending issues

In the meantime, several African mediators are working on arranging a meeting between Bashir and Salva Kiir, Sudan’s vice president and president of the government of South Sudan.

The two leaders are expected to discuss several issues related to the secession scenario like citizenship, foreign debt, oil, and water as well as the demarcation of political borders between the two future states.

Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa will also visit South Sudan’s capital Juba in order to discuss issues that need to be resolved in case of secession.

Several points of contention exist between the governments of the north and the south. In fact, the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) made negotiations with the northern ruling National Congress Party (NCP) contingent upon several pending issues like border demarcation as well as determining the fate of the disputed, oil-rich Abyei province.

Moussa on Tuesday said that he senses that neither north nor south Sudan have any desire to return to war.

Moussa said the Arab League will send a mission to monitor the Jan. 9 vote.

The referendum is a central pillar of the 2005 peace deal that ended one of Africa's longest wars. It claimed the lives of 2 million people and left twice as many displaced.

"I don't feel any inclination to hostilities between the two parties regardless of the results from the upcoming referendum," Moussa said, according to comments published by Sudan's news agency.

The south is seen likely to choose independence. Some fear the separation and unresolved issues could propel the two sides back to war.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

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