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Sudan: 22 Parties Call President to Step Down

Sudan: 22 Parties Call President to Step Down

Wednesday, 2 January, 2019 - 09:15
Sudanese demonstrators run from teargas lobbed to disperse them as they march along the street during anti-government protests in Khartoum, Sudan December 25, 2018. (Reuters)

Sudanese parties participating in the national dialogue, notably the National Umma Party and the Reform Movement, submitted a memorandum to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir asking him to step down in response to the popular demands.

The 22 parties of the National Association for Change, Change Bloc, and Umma Party signed a joint declaration calling for the removal of Bashir’s regime, based on the fact that the regime, with its current structure and political, economic, regional and international isolation, can not overcome the crisis.

The memorandum, which was read to journalists at a press conference in Khartoum, called for exceptional measures to overcome what it called the “impending political collapse”, demanding the formation of a new transitional council to assume sovereignty.

The political forces proposed to dissolve the current parliament and to appoint a consensual transitional assembly of 100 members.

The memo cautioned against refusing to move to a new political system, saying its consequences would be disastrous for social security and the country as a whole.

For his part, head of Umma Party Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi supported the protesters and called for the release of the detainees.

Mahdi told reporters that they accepted the initiative of the President for national dialogue to reach peaceful solutions, however, he said they later discovered that the ruling National Congress Party was not serious about the initiative.

Head of Reform Movement Ghazi al-Atabani told reporters that the movement will withdraw its representatives from all legislative councils, in solidarity with the people and in response to street protests.

Ishraqa Sayed Mahmoud, member of the Democratic Union Party, said that the front was formed as a result of the people's revolution, adding that people joined the protests calling for democracy and stability.

She stressed the need to move forward with the people's revolution to change the regime, asserting that there can’t be “reform without regime change.”

Member of Reform Bloc, Mohammed Taher Assil, noted that the National Congress’ methods in running the country have failed, calling for creating a social movement that answers the demands of the people and fully supports the revolution.

Since last December, Sudan had been witnessing mass demonstrations in most cities, initially protesting hike in prices, however, it has evolved to demand the overthrow of the regime.

President’s security forces resorted to excessive violence using live bullets, stun grenades, tear gas and batons, while large military forces were deployed in most of the country's cities, including the capital, Khartoum.

Early on in the marches, protesters burned a number of buildings, most of which were headquarters of the ruling party in cities outside Khartoum, but later maintained their peacefulness.

According to an official statement, 19 people were killed and 406 injured. National Umma Party said in a statement that more than 45 people were killed, over 100 people injured, and security forces arrested more than 2000 people.

Amnesty International announced it documented 37 deaths in the first five days of Sudan's protests, shot by government forces.

Sudan has been facing an acute foreign exchange crisis and soaring inflation since the beginning of 2018.

The foreign exchange crisis has steadily escalated with the inflation currently running at 70 percent and the Sudanese pound has plunged in value, while shortages of bread and fuel have hit several cities.

On Wednesday, Central Bank of Sudan denied receiving any foreign deposits or loans. However, it expected the arrival of foreign deposits soon.

Last week, reports indicated that Khartoum received a $1 billion deposit to meet the country's severe foreign currency deficit, provided by Qatar.

Governor of the Bank, Mohamed Khair al-Zubair explained that the recent rise in the exchange rate of the Sudanese pound against foreign currencies is due to the policies taken by the Central Bank.

Zubair announced that banks would be allowed to finance real estate, production vehicles, and private car financing will be considered later. He said they hoped to resolve the problem until April, noting the highest banknote on the market, the 50 pound note, is worth one dollar.

The Central Bank said Tuesday that new banknotes will be released this month “with an aim to resolve the banknote issue gradually, as banknotes of 100, 200 and 500 will be launched in mid-January."

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