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Tariq al-Sheikh

The death of Sudanese dialogue

President Bashir faces 14 rival candidates in the next election, despite an opposition boycott [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 January, 2015

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Comment: The political situation in Sudan is deteriorating as President Bashir fails to make the necessary conditions to facilitate national dialogue talks.
Storm clouds have been gathering over Sudan since President Omar Bashir's announcement last year that national dialogue would start "soon".

Since the announcement, tensions have increased. Open confrontation between the government and opposition forces seems increasingly likely. A total of 16 parties have refused to take part in talks. Bashir, however, has said dialogue will continue.

Opposition groups have started uniting in an unprecedented show of defiance against the government.

They have agreed on their terms for participating in talks, which include the creation of appropriate conditions for dialogue, and the annulment of laws restricting freedom.
     Instead of annulling laws restricting freedom, the government has amended the constitution to give more power to the president.

The government has failed to meet these conditions. Instead, it has cracked down on prominent opposition figures, arresting Sadek Mahdi and two other human right activists - Farouq Abu Eissa, head of the National Consensus Forces, and Amin Maki Madani, head of the Alliance of Sudanese Civil Society Organisations.

The ruling party, however, has continued preparing for presidential elections - despite the opposition announcing it would boycott them. This shows the government could be more interested in holding genuine dialogue talks.

Instead of annulling laws restricting freedom, the government has amended the constitution to give more power to the president.

The situation in Sudan has fallen to unprecedented levels.

There appears little room for political solutions, while there is a high chance of violent confrontations. Rampant corruption among state officials and ruling party figures shows a distinct lack of law or order. The government appears unable to run the country, and opposition forces are likely to attempt bring down the regime.

Bashir has a choice: he can make genuine concessions to end the deadlock, or he can write a new, tragic history for Sudan - one that is no less serious that the secession of South Sudan in July 2011.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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