Sudanese president agreed to release opposition leader: Mbeki 

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AUHIP’s Thabo Mbeki talks to reporters after a meeting with Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir on national dialogue in Khartoum on 10 September 2014 (SUNA)

September 10, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The head of the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki, said that Sudanese president, Omer al-Bashir, welcomed his efforts for a successful dialogue in Sudan and agreed to release jailed opposition leader Ibrahim al-Sheikh.

Mbeki, following a meeting with Bashir on Wednesday, said that the Sudanese president welcomed the agreement on national dialogue and constitutional process inked by Paris declaration forces and the national dialogue subcommittee for external liaison in Addis Ababa on 4 September.

He further said the meeting addressed “the need to create the right climate” for conducting the national dialogue by allowing freedom of expression, assembly and information as well as releasing political prisoners and detainees.

“And indeed the president again agreed about t the importance of that. So he said to me that according to our discussions the government would take the necessary action to release Ibrahim al-Sheikh,” Mbeki said.

On Wednesday evening a spokesperson for the opposition Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP) told Sudan Tribune that they were not officially notified of a decision to release the party leader, pointing that al-Sheikh is being currently arrested in Al-Obeid prison, North Kordofan state along with six others party members.

The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested al-Sheikh in June after comments he made at a seminar in which he criticised the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and accused them of committing abuses in conflict zones. He faces charges that could hand him the death penalty if convicted.

On Monday evening, NISS released the deputy chairman of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Meriam al-Mahdi, who has been arrested upon her return to the country on 11 August after taking part in talks between the NUP and the rebel alliance of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) in France.

BASHIR SUPPORTS INCLUSIVE DIALOGUE

Mbeki said he discussed with Bashir the need to make progress in the national dialogue process, pointing the latter emphasised for the need of an inclusive process, incorporating civil society and armed groups.

The head of the AUHIP further said the Sudanese president expressed his support to the agreement on national dialogue and constitutional process adding that the dialogue high committee known as 7+7 “will meet and look at the progress (achieved) and take all the necessary decisions about that”.

“So we will continue our effort to engage both the 7+7 and the others (Paris declaration forces) about how to take forward that particular document which they signed in Addis Ababa and again the president agreed we should do that,” he added.

African and Western diplomats had earlier confirmed to Sudan Tribune that Mbeki’s meeting with Bashir aims to hold an all parties conference in Addis Ababa next month to reach a framework agreement for the internal political process.

MBEKI TO BRIEF UNSC, AUPSC

Mbeki said he informed Bashir that he will present a briefing about these developments to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) on Friday and will fly five days later to New York to meet with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

“We will be able to give a report both to the AUPSC and the UNSC about this development, and of course urging all of them to help us to address other matters like forgiving the external debit of Sudan,” he said.

The minister at Sudanese presidency, al-Rashid Haroon, told reporters following the meeting that Bashir welcomed the agreement because it did not contradict with the outcome of the 7+7 committee, pointing the government would have preferred to sign it inside Sudan.

“However, we don’t mind as long as it did not overstep what has been agreed upon by the 7+7 committee,” he added.

He stressed that dialogue will be conducted inside Sudan and with Sudanese will.

Haroon said that Mbeki, in his recent visit to Doha, discussed with Qatari deputy prime minister Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud ways to involve the non-signatories in the comprehensive process on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

KHARTOUM, JUBA RELATIONS

The meeting between Bashir and Mbeki also discussed results of the latter’s recent visit to Juba.

The head of the AUHIP said he agreed with officials in South Sudan to hold a meeting for the joint security committee in Juba to look into implementation of pending issues between the two countries.

He said that Bashir agreed to meeting of the committee, pointing the issue will be further discussed with Sudan’s defence minister, Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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