Sudan’s opposition has demanded the formation of a transitional government amid growing calls for President Omar Al-Bashir to relinquish power.
This comes in the wake of popular protests which have swept across the country with demonstrators saying some goods have more than doubled in cost, while inflation has risen to nearly 70 per cent amid sharp falls in the value of the Sudanese pound.
In a letter to President Bashir, which The African News Journal has exclusively obtained, the opposition says the protests which have been seen in most of the Sudanese states have not been only due to the scarcity of bread or rise in its prices.
“The people of Sudan continue to suffer from civil war and the smothering rise in prices, high unemployment, the burden of settling education bills for their children and pay for the family healthcare while the negligence of the production sectors such as agriculture, has led the country into a complex economic crisis,” reads the letter signed by Umma Party President, Mubarak Elmahdi among other leaders of opposition groups under the name National Front for Change.
The association comprises Democratic unionist party represented by Mrs Ishraga Sidahmad; Reform Now Movement led by Dr Gazi Salaheldin Attabani; Reform forces Group; Eastern party for Justice and Development; Darfour Society Forum, National Reform Party, Unionist movement; Mayoist Social Party; The democratic congress of eastern Sudan; united Umma party; and The nation United Forum among others.
The opposition says signs of a collapsing economy can be seen in the large foreign exchange deficit; severe shortage of cash and rising inflation due to an oversized structure of government.
They further say government is funded by deficit financed through the continued printing of currency in addition to increasing rates of corruption and expenditure on the regime’s security.
Bashir’s challengers also cited acute shortage of banknotes that resulted in failure of banks to pay its depositors; disruption and negligence of national economic projects and national institutions such as Aljazeera agricultural project, shipping lines and rail lines; and politicization of the civil service that led to inefficiency and corruption.
“All this led to an alarming daily increase in the prices of local and imported products with severe shortage in bread, fuel and transportation, increasing the suffering of citizens,” the letter reads in part.
“It is well known that the regime does not have the economic tools to stop the rapid decline of the national currency. In addition, the current Bashir regime due to its political, economic, regional and international isolation cannot overcome this crisis.”
The opposition said the situation can only be resolved by “establishing a new regime in the country that can regain the confidence of the Sudanese people and restore Sudan’s international relations with the USA, Europe and the region to a balanced manner based on mutual interests and mutual respect. That could lead to removing Sudan from the USA list of states sponsors of terrorism and qualify our country for debt forgiveness by the Paris Club and lift our national currency from collapse and restore the country economic balance.”
On his part, President Bashir has since urged his citizens to reject what he described as “attempts to plant frustration,” emphasising the state would “continue to carry out economic reforms to ensure decent living of the citizens.” At least 19 demonstrators have been killed in the past nine days and the government blames the violence on infiltrators and saboteurs supported by enemy countries including Israel.
The Sudanese military said in a brief statement that it “stands behind its leadership” and pledged to protect the country’s security and independence.
The opposition intends to pile pressure on Bashir to quit after leaked information showed he was not willing to step down in 2020 as earlier promised. However, in an interview with BBC last week, Bashir reassured on his commitment to relinquish power.
Insiders further say opposition is equally worried of Bashir influencing his succession through manipulation of the electoral process to favour his preferred candidate hence launching protests early enough to remove him from power.
The opposition said despite the fact that the national dialogue has formed a fertile ground for solving the problems of the country by addressing their root causes and crisis that the country suffered for decades, “the absence of political will on the part of the NCP (ruling party) and the lack of effective mechanisms stood in the way of implementation until the situation deteriorated and reached this current crisis.” Therefore, said the opposition, the only way to remedy the imminent political and economic collapse is to take exceptional and extra ordinary measures to put in place a new regime through the formation of a transitional sovereign council to assume sovereign powers and a transitional government that combines competencies and political representation without quotas.
Mubarak Elmahdi said a new government would be entrusted with the implementation of the national dialogue resolution according to priorities that will stop the economic collapse and end the political and economic isolation of Sudan, achieve peace and conduct free and fair general election.
“The transitional government shall be chaired by a competent experienced Prime minister that enjoys national respect and support,” he said.
Elmahdi said this government would dissolve the present National Assembly and the Council of States and appoint a consensual transitional national council of 100 members; dissolve the 18 state governments and their legislative assemblies, regroup the 18 states into the six historical regions and restructure local government; and appoint regional governors and governments for the regions.
He stated that the Transitional Government shall determine the appropriate date for elections in consultation with the political forces.
The transitional government’s responsibilities will include legal and constitutional reform; reforming the civil service and other government institutions; preparing the electoral law and forming the electoral commission among other responsibilities.
The opposition says a new leadership will be able to adopt the African road map for peace and political stability in Sudan, re-open the national dialogue document to allow the political forces that have not signed it to add their contributions; take urgent economic measures and actions to alleviate the suffering and hardships endured by the people and provide them with basic needs; restore democracy and secure public freedoms and stop the war and bring peace to the areas of Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur.
Elmahdi said “continuing to refuse to move to a new political system will have serious social and political consequences that will lead to social insecurity, increase the suffering of citizens and cripple the country.”
The Sudanese government this past Saturday said security forces clashed with militants of the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdel Wahid in al-Droushab suburb, a claim the organisation’s leader dismissed as diversionary.
Bashir took power in a 1989 coup, ousting democratically-elected Sadeq al-Mahdi, who is now Sudan’s opposition leader.