Opposition party leader warns Al-Bashir's gov't

Category: International
Published on Thursday, 12 March 2009 21:38
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mahdi
Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of Umma Party

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the Ummah [nation] Party and former Sudanese prime minister, warned the ruling National Congress Party in Sudan, led by President Omar al-Bashir, against taking the country back to square one.

Al-Mahdi said: "If the National Congress Party insists on refusing to deal with the International Criminal Court [ICC] and seek support from regional and world parties that stand by it, this stand will lead Sudan to severe polarization and wars on more than one front. It will also open the door to regional and international interventions." He noted: "This is the worst outcome that might happen in Sudan."

In exclusive statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Mahdi said: "We in the Ummah Party do not approve of the handover of President Al-Bashir to the court. However, we agree to deal with the court. On the other hand, we do not accept elusion of punishment."

He added: "However, we present to the ICC a plan that we call the third way. It can be summed up in the formation of a hybrid court consisting of independent Sudanese judges and other judges from the Arab world and Africa."

At the same time, Al-Mahdi explained that this hybrid court will not be a legal substitute. Rather, he added, it will serve as a definitive plan to resolve the Darfur problem, secure freedoms, ensure a democratic transition, achieve a comprehensive peace ,and turn this crisis into an opportunity to resolve all the problems of Sudan.

Al-Mahdi said: "Those who work in the two directions, that is to say, the ones who refuse to deal with the court and those who call for handing Al-Bashir over, are working for agendas that are impossible to achieve. Therefore, we expect them to find a way of backing down by supporting our stand."

Commenting on the stands that are taken by Sudan's neighbors, Al-Mahdi said: Their stands vary. However, I do not believe that any of Sudan's neighbors stand by the National Congress Party in its refusal to deal with the ICC.

He added that even Libya, which rejects internationalization of the issue, advised the Sudanese Government not to be stubborn in dealing with the international community. He noted that Libya gave this advice, proceeding from its experience in the Lockerbie issue.

He said: "Therefore, I believe that the neighboring states to which we will talk will support the idea of not handing Al-Bashir over. They may regard the third way as a reasonable solution."

Asked whether the National Congress Party will back down and agree to deal with the ICC, Al-Mahdi said: "As a political party, we deal with the National Congress Party proceeding from the principle of dialogue, rather than rivalry. That is why we clearly stated our opinion, and we might attract others to this opinion. Also, members of the National Congress Party itself might be receptive to it."

He said that after realizing the "nil results" of its escalation of the situation, the National Congress Party will find our stand as a way of backing down.

Commenting on the release of [opposition leader] Dr Al-Turabi at this very time, according to his analysis of the political situation, Al-Mahdi said: "I believe that his arrest or release is not part of a specific plan. Nevertheless, we may say that his arrest and subsequent release show the lack of a definitive strategy on dealing with counter opinion."