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Opposition demands participation in peace process

The Cairo-based leader of the opposition Ummah party in Sudan, Sadiq al-Mahdi, has said that the Sudanese peace process must involve parties other than the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

For an agreement "to become a lasting feature and to enjoy popular and international support it has to go beyond the two parties involved," he said in an interview with the London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat. "It should not become a means with which to isolate and oppress the others."

While the security deal signed last month between the government and the rebels would lead to a lasting ceasefire and was a "positive agreement" overall, he said, "it is essential to find a way of transforming it into a national agreement and not a bilateral one".

He rejected the notion of the government and the SPLA forming a partnership for life, which could not be dissolved, as both sides had "totally different ideological platforms".

He also rejected the idea of integrated army units - part of the security deal - forming a future national army, and called for the introduction of recruitment "norms" to be put in place for a national armed force.

Regarding the six year transitional period, al-Mahdi said there should be elections after two years and power-sharing should be based on the results of the elections, and not on the basis of "poltical arrangements" between the government and the SPLM/A.

He added that if both parties took into consideration the "opinion of the Sudanese people" then his party would strongly and enthusiastically support a comprehensive agreement.

"But if we feel that the agreement is based on monopoly, continuous totalitarianism, or removing the sovereignty from the Sudanese people, then we will strongly oppose it," he said.

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