From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Oct 13 2009 - 09:18:49 EDT
Sudan's SPLM threatens to boycott parliament
Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:48pm EDT
* SPLM says lack of political will from partners in peace
* NCP says committed to reach agreement
* Political parties, civil society launch mass campaign
By Opheera McDoom
KHARTOUM, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Sudan's junior partners in government
threatened on Monday to boycott the last parliamentary session before an
election unless President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's party implements a
north-south peace deal.
Relations between the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation
Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party (NCP) are tense, with
accusations of delays from both sides in implementing the deal which
enshrined democratic transformation and the first multi-party elections in
24 years, due in April.
Laws including reform of the powerful intelligence forces, the trade unions
and a bill governing a southern referendum on secession in 2011 must be
passed by parliament.
But the SPLM and NCP, who formed a coalition government after the 2005 deal,
have not agreed on their content.
"We are going to boycott the whole parliamentary session if they do not
respond positively," said Yasir Arman, head of the SPLM's northern sector.
"There is an absence of political will from the National Congress."
He said the NCP refused to accept changes to the SPLM's members in
parliament and had not included key laws, such as the referendum bill, on
the parliamentary agenda.
More than 20 political parties have said they would boycott the election if
fair laws are not passed this session.
"If we do not put pressure on the National Congress then (they) are taking
us to war and we don't want that," Arman said, adding their former northern
foes had one week to take action.
The NCP, which dominates parliament, said they were meeting the SPLM and
were sure they would agree on the outstanding laws.
"The NCP is committed to finishing ... the referendum bill before the end of
this parliamentary session," senior official Ibrahim Ghandour said.
Political tension is growing ahead of the April 2010 election and on Monday
some 20 political parties, academics and civil society groups launched a
campaign against a draft law before parliament governing Sudan's
They said the law contravened the constitution by giving the intelligence
services powers of arrest, search and to confiscate property rather than
just information gathering.
"This (law) is the most dangerous obstacle to democratic transformation,"
human rights lawyer Amin Mekki said.
He said the campaign would lobby the United Nations, the African Union, Arab
League and foreign governments to pressure the NCP to change the law.
Analysts say Sudan's intelligence services are as powerful as the army. The
campaign leaders said the force was "above the law" and parliament needed to
remove all its executive powers.
The north-south civil war in Africa's largest country claimed some 2 million
lives and drove 4 million from their homes. (Editing by Alison
C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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