Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir's rallying call for reform may not have impressed his country's opposition, going by their reactions to the call, PANA reported Wednesday. In the much-publicised speech, President Al-Bashir called on all political parties to engage in dialogue on a document he called the “comprehensive reform document”, which his ruling National Congress Party (NCP) formulated.
In the speech which he delivered at the Friendship Hall here Monday, the President, who is the NCP Chairman, also stressed the importance of peace as a pre-condition to national development, saying in particular that peace must prevail in the Blue Nile, South Kordufan and Darfur regions.
Reacting to the speech, the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) of former Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi called for the formation of a “broad-based National Government” to implement the reform initiative announced by President Al-Bashir.
The NUP said in a statement that such a reform requires a number of conditions that the NCP must meet, including the eradication of the 'empowerment policies' under which the NCP had allegedly swapped senior professional civil servants with NCP loyalists and other Islamists.
The NUP also called for the creation of a national council to take care of the peace process, instead of keeping this only in the hands of the NCP, and for a national mechanism to write a new constitution.
For its part, Reform Now, another opposition group which has recently split from the NCP, called for the formation of a national accord mechanism to be implemented by a neutral government.
The leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP), Dr. Hassan al-Turabi, said there was nothing new in the President's speech.
However, the government has dismissed the calls for the formation of a national government to replace the present one.
Presidential Assistant and Deputy NCP Chairman Ibrahim Ghandour said President Al-Bashir would give another speech when he returns from the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tuesday to explain the previous one.