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Al-Assam to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Have Not Reached a Deadlock With the Military Council

Al-Assam to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Have Not Reached a Deadlock With the Military Council

Thursday, 9 May, 2019 - 07:45
Sudanese opposition leader Mohamed Naji al-Assam (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Khartoum - Idrous Abdulaziz, Ahmed Younis
Sudanese opposition leader Mohamed Naji al-Assam said the opposition forces had not yet reached a deadlock with the ruling Transitional Military Council.

Al-Assam, the young doctor, who left his profession to join the Professionals’ Gathering and lead the street movements, told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview from Khartoum: “There is no return on our consensus with the military council, despite the many points of disagreement.”

Commenting on the Military Council’s response to the constitutional document, which was put forward by the forces of the popular movement with regards to the transitional authority, Al-Assam said: “In our point of view, the response was very negative, despite some positive signs.”

He explained: “It speaks of additional powers of the sovereign council, such as the appointment and removal of the prime minister and of members of the Legislative Council, in addition to military conventions and other subjects that are contrary to all the documents and papers that we have submitted and agreed upon in the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change.”

On whether the forces would adopt any specific steps in this regard, the opposition leader said: “We will certainly continue the peaceful public movement; all options are available to escalate peaceful action in all forms, starting with the demonstrations of the millions to the call for civil disobedience and comprehensive political strike.”

Asked if the Army was trying to implement a political agenda, Al-Assam agreed, noting that the Military Council was trying to prolong the time to reach solutions in order to extend its powers.

Emphasizing that the opposition forces have not reached a deadlock with the Council, he said: “However, there is a decline in the consensus between us and the Military Council, although we still welcome the mediation committee; the Council has had a negative attitude towards it; it rejected many items in its initiative, including the proposal of the two councils. For us, the escalation of a peaceful and public movement is necessary to obtain a civilian authority.”

Regarding his opinion on talks by the Military Council on the Islamic legitimacy, Al-Assam stressed that such debates were part of the Council’s political twists.

“[The Council] is trying to restore the sharp polarization in the street; topics, such as the sources of legislation, the official language and the basic constitutional provisions, are premature; they fall under the Constituent Assembly, which submits the permanent constitution proposal to Sudan; it is supposed to be an assembly elected at the end of the transitional period,” he remarked.

Al-Assam went on to say: “The Military Council has moved away from the main axis of the debate; the document was not a constitution; the Council has treated it in this way; for us, in the forces of freedom and change… we cannot accept the powers put forward by the Council.”

In response to a comment by Asharq Al-Awsat that the Military Council was hinting at the possibility to hold early elections within a period of six months, if the disagreements continued, the opposition official said: “They know that elections cannot be held within six months; because there is no constitution or electoral law; there is the problem of war and peace.”

“These issues cannot be resolved even within two years,” he stressed, adding that the Council was trying to gain time to gradually become a political player “rather than a momentary transitional actor in Sudan’s history.”

On whether he believed that the coming period would be more difficult than the previous phase, Al-Assam disapproved, noting that the strength of the current Council was not equal to the power of the former regime.

“There are more complexities, many areas overlap and the battle has become open with many parties; but we trust the unity and cohesion of the Sudanese people and that we are able to overcome that stage and reach the main demand, namely the establishment of civilian authority,” he affirmed.

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