Nigeria – Boko Haram abductions continue

BBC

Nigeria’s Boko Haram ‘abducts more women and girls’

Boko Haram militants from a video released by the groupAccording to residents, a large group of insurgents attacked the two villages on Saturday

Dozens of women and girls from two villages in Nigeria’s north-eastern Adamawa state have been abducted by suspected militants, residents say.

The abductions have not been confirmed by the authorities, but residents say they took place a day after the military announced it had agreed a ceasefire with the Boko Haram group.

The government hopes the Islamist group will free more than 200 girls seized in April as part of negotiations.

Boko Haram has not confirmed the truce.

Following Friday’s ceasefire announcement, the government said further talks with Boko Haram were due to be held this week in neighbouring Chad.

A man poses with a sign in front of police officers in riot gear during a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls from Chibok, in Abuja, on 14 October 2014. The government failure to secure the schoolgirls’ release has sparked mass protests

In a separate incident, at least five people were killed in a bomb blast at a bus station in a town in the northern state of Bauchi.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hostage swaps

News of the new abductions came as MPs approved a $1bn (£623m) loan – requested by the president in July – to upgrade military equipment and train more units fighting the north-eastern insurgency.

But they asked the finance minister to give the chamber more details about how the external borrowing would be sourced.

Security already costs the country close to $6bn, roughly a quarter of the federal budget.

The abduction of the schoolgirls from their boarding school in Borno state sparked a global campaign to pressure the government to secure their release.

Borno is the group’s stronghold. It has been under a state of emergency, along with neighbouring Adamawa and Yobe states, for more than a year.

The villages that were attacked on Saturday – Waga Mangoro and Garta – are close to Madagali and Michika towns, which have been under the control of the Islamist militant group for several weeks.

Map showing Boko Haram areas of control in Nigeria

According to people in the area, a large group of insurgents attacked the villages, rounding up women and girls.

They forced them to harvest groundnuts on a farm, then abducted those who were teenagers or in their early 20s.

Communication with the affected area is difficult, which is why it takes time for news of attacks to filter out.

Other raids by suspected Boko Haram fighters were reported by residents in Adamawa and Borno over the weekend.

Since the state of emergency was declared in May 2013, Boko Haram has taken many women and children hostage and has agreed to some prisoner swaps.

The name Boko Haram translates as “Western education is forbidden”, and the militants have carried out raids on schools and colleges, seeing them as a symbol of Western culture.

line

Who are Boko Haram?

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaking to the camera in a video the group released on 12 May 2014Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is the most wanted man in Nigeria
  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja

BBC

  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

Zimbabwe – Grace Mugabe announces plan to succeed her husband as president

Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe has announced her candidacy to succeed her husband, 90-year-old president Robert Mugabe, when he leaves office.

Robert and Grace Mugabe. (Reuters)

“People say I want to be president, why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?” the 49-year-old said when addressing veterans of the country’s liberation struggle in Mazowe at about 40 kilometres north of Harare.

Mugabe called on Vice President Joice Mujuru – regarded as one of the top contenders to succeed the president – to resign. “There are plenty of people who can run this country, not Mujuru,” she said, adding that her husband’s deputy would take Zimbabwe “back to where we were before independence”.

Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, has travelled several times for medical care abroad, sparking speculation that he could step down before his term ends in 2018. Mugabe has meanwhile been appointed to head the women’s league of the ruling party Zanu-PF.

The first lady’s political ambitions have faced resistance from Mujuru and others who participated in the liberation struggle against the white minority government of the then Rhodesia – today Zimbabwe – alongside Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe has also come under fire for a doctorate she obtained from the University of Zimbabwe in September – allegedly just months after she enrolled there. – Sapa  M&G

IOL News

October 23 2014 at 04:59pm
By SAPA Comment on this story

Copy of nd GRACE MUGABE 2 (45252041) EPAZimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe addresses more than 15 000 party supporters who attended her ‘meet the people tour’ in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe. EPA/AARON UFUMELI

Mazowe, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe on Thursday announced her candidacy to succeed her husband, 90-year-old president Robert Mugabe, when he leaves office.

“People say I want to be president, why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?” the 49-year-old said when addressing veterans of the country’s liberation struggle in Mazowe at about 40 kilometres north of Harare.

Mugabe called on Vice President Joice Mujuru – regarded as one of the top contenders to succeed the president – to resign.

“There are plenty of people who can run this country, not Mujuru,” she said, adding that her husband’s deputy would take Zimbabwe “back to where we were before independence.”

Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, has travelled several times for medical care abroad, sparking speculation that he could step down before his term ends in 2018.

Mugabe has meanwhile been appointed to head the women’s league of the ruling party Zanu-PF.

The first lady’s political ambitions have faced resistance from Mujuru and others who participated in the liberation struggle against the white minority government of the then Rhodesia – today Zimbabwe – alongside Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe has also come under fire for a doctorate she obtained from the University of Zimbabwe in September – allegedly just months after she enrolled there.

Sapa-dpa iol

Uganda-Central Africa – the problems in the hunt for Knoy and the lRA

Martin Plaut

Africa’s forgotten scourge: Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army

In the past year, Joseph Kony is said to have been responsible for killing 76 civilians and abducting 467. Despite the lack of international coverage, an African operation to kill or capture him continues. Martin Plaut talks to its leader, Brigadier General Sam Kavuma.

Joseph Kony, photographed in Southern Sudan in 2006. Photo: Stuart Price/AFP/Getty
Joseph Kony, photographed in Southern Sudan in 2006. Photo: Stuart Price/AFP/Getty

Once they were at the top of the African crisis agenda, but ebola, civil war in South Sudan and the atrocities of Boko Haram have driven them out of the headlines. It is hard to find a single mention of Joseph Kony or his murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the international media.

Yet they have not gone away. The charity Invisible Children, which tenaciously tracks the LRA says that it killed two people in the last month and abducted 26 more. In the past year Kony is said to have been responsible for killing 76 civilians and abducting 467. Behind these cold statistics is a trail of shattered lives: of villages living in terror and women too frightened to go to the fields to plant or harvest.

Kony, and his killers, are now hunted across a vast area of Central Africa. “There are probably no more than 100 fighters with Kony,” says Brigadier General Sam Kavuma, who is leading the African operation to kill or capture him. But the general is under no illusion about the scale of the problem. The LRA is dispersed over South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. It is an area approximately the size of western Europe and General Kavuma has only around 1,500 troops at his disposal.

Despite this, the general is optimistic. “Kony is no longer fighting – he’s hiding and trying to survive,” he told the New Statesman in a phone interview.

The General’s Regional Task Force should be far larger. The African Union mandate provides for a brigade-size operation of 5,000 troops, drawn from Uganda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo (pdf).

But the civil war in the Central African Republic has meant it has provided General Kavuma with not a single soldier, while the fighting that erupted in South Sudan last December has also reduced its support. One of Uganda’s three battalions was also withdrawn to prop up South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, in his dispute with his rival, Riek Machar (pdf).

Joseph Kony – once a Ugandan church choir boy – has been the scourge of central Africa for more than two decades. Drawn from the Acholi people of northern Uganda, the LRA has used abduction and murder to further its ends and maintain its operations. Kony himself is notoriously canny and wary – characteristics that have allowed him to survive all these years despite the international efforts to kill him.

President Obama established the elimination of Kony as one of his African goals and recently increased the support given to this operation. Several CV-22 Osprey long range, high speed helicopters, plus 150 Air Force Special Operations troops and airmen joined the search.

In the end, though, the problem of the LRA is likely to require a political solution. “We know that 80 per cent of LRA fighters have been abducted themselves,” says General Kavuma. Talks have been tried in the past, but are ruled out for the present. Kony has used previous negotiations and ceasefires to regroup and re-arm his forces. “The Acholi leaders have sent messages to their people to defect and come home,” the general says and this is paying dividends. “Two months ago we had over fifty defectors, including women and children.”

This strategy has American backing from the 7th Military Information Support Battalion. Radio stations have been established to broadcast appeals to the fighters; half a million leaflets have been dropped from the air. Even aerial loudspeakers have been deployed to try to persuade LRA fighters to lay down their weapons and come out of the bush.

This has been a long and a deadly war. Ugandan troops serve for up to two years before going home. General Kavuma has a good reputation and is said to have transformed the African troops into an effective fighting force. But divisions in South Sudan and the Central African Republic have sapped the operation. The LRA is said to be hiding in Kafia Kingi, one of the areas claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan. Kony may still receive backing from Khartoum, although the General says he has no evidence of this.

The fighting is unlikely to end soon. It is simply too low on the international agenda to receive sufficient resources. As one well-informed observer put it: “The LRA is a forgotten force in a forgotten part of the world.” MP

Mozambique – Renamo’s election strategy and use of violence

ISS

Renamo’s renaissance, and civil war as election strategy

In 2009, the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) recorded its worst ever showing in an election. Its candidate, rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama, was trying so hard to play the respectable politician, yet he received only 650 679 votes (16,41% of the total). This was, astoundingly, over 300 000 votes fewer than he had garnered in the 2004 poll.

At the same time, Renamo won just 51 seats in Parliament, down from 91 seats in the previous session. By anyone’s estimation, it was a catastrophic showing for the party that had effectively invented opposition politics in the country. It had fought to end the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique’s (Frelimo’s) de facto one-party state both during the country’s bloody civil war (which only ended with the 1992 peace agreement), and in the post-civil war democratic elections that followed thereafter.

It seemed as if Dhlakama and his Renamo movement were a spent force. Incoherent and disorganised, and dogged by its dodgy historical links to the apartheid government in South Africa, the party had lost ground not only to the ruling Frelimo but also to the young upstarts of the Movement for Democracy in Mozambique (MDM). The MDM, a breakaway faction of Renamo, had sprung up to claim 8,59% of the electorate.

The very next day, Dhlakama hit the campaign trail

Of course, Renamo cried foul, alleging that the election was rigged and initially refusing to recognise the results. But its leaders must have known that the sheer scale of the drop in support indicated that the real problem lay within its own ranks. If Renamo were to remain relevant – if they were to seriously compete for power in 2014, and for a share of Mozambique’s impending oil and gas boom – then something needed to change.

And so the party returned to doing what it does best: no, not electoral politics, but armed resistance. In 2012, Dhlakama began to resurrect his fighting force, re-establishing a military base in the Gorongosa region and arming Renamo veterans. By October 2013, he was confident enough to rip up the ceasefire that had ended the civil war in 1992. ‘Peace is over in the country,’ said a Renamo spokesperson. These weren’t just words: Renamo launched deadly attacks on targets such as police stations and highways, resulting in dozens of deaths (both military and civilian). The civil war was back, albeit at a far lower intensity.

At the same time, Renamo announced that it would boycott the upcoming municipal elections in November 2013, decrying the politicisation of the electoral system and the blurring of lines between Frelimo and the state (both valid criticisms). It made good on this threat, and its absence allowed the MDM to make significant gains in many of the country’s most important municipalities.

Renamo, it seemed, were weaker than ever before. ‘Dhlakama has backed himself into a corner from which there is no obvious exit,’ wrote veteran Mozambique researcher Joseph Hanlon in late 2013, a conclusion shared by most analysts. But Dhlakama found a way out.

Eventually, Renamo’s intransigence and the threat of even more violence forced the government to the negotiating table – although critics say the government should have acted much sooner to nip the Renamo threat in the bud. Anxious to deal with the situation before the presidential elections, President Armando Guebuza allowed Renamo to extract several key concessions. These included greater representation for Renamo in state institutions, especially the armed forces; reform of the electoral system to make it harder to rig elections in Frelimo’s favour; and a general amnesty for Dhlakama and his supporters.

The new peace deal was concluded on 5 September 2014, with Guebuza and Dhlakama shaking hands in a ceremony in Maputo. The very next day, Dhlakama hit the campaign trail.

At this point, the odds were still stacked against Dhlakama and Renamo. With little over a month before the polls, his opponents had enjoyed a substantial head start on campaigning. And surely Mozambicans would not take kindly to political groups that make their demands at the barrel of a gun: that threaten to plunge the country into civil war if they don’t get their way.

Renamo rallies were chaotic and disorganised, but still people came

In fact, the opposite was true. Everywhere Dhlakama went, he received a hero’s welcome. Unlike Frelimo rallies, where crowds were lured by the promise of free merchandise and celebrity entertainment, Renamo rallies were chaotic and disorganised. But still people came, and waited for hours just to get a glimpse of the man who had somehow turned himself into a beacon of hope for the huge sections of society that feel marginalised by Frelimo’s length rule.

‘Dhlakama has won admiration by apparently forcing Frelimo to make political concessions it has been resisting for decades. He even seems to be enjoying – perhaps unjustly – much of the credit for the peace that has come just in time for the election. Emerging from hiding only after the peace agreement was signed was a clever move that brought his supporters out in droves to welcome him as a hero,’ wrote journalist Cait Reid for African Arguments.

Far from being Renamo’s death knell, its resumption of hostilities was a political masterstroke. It was able to depict itself as the party that was able to take real action to defend its principles, which it argued were for the good of Mozambique as a whole. Dhlakama’s rhetoric on the campaign trail echoed this, and emphasised values such as tolerance and unity, which contrasted sharply with Frelimo’s either-with-us-or-against-us approach.

Oddly enough, by pulling out of the democratic process, Renamo was able to demonstrate its commitment to it; at least as far as its constituency is concerned.

The election results bear this out. Although the final results have yet to be released, provisional results and a parallel count from the Electoral Observatory of Mozambique give Renamo about 32% of the presidential vote – double their proportion from 2009. Regardless of this feat, Renamo are challenging the results and alleging that the vote was tampered with. It is a dramatic return to form, and positions Renamo once again as the most serious challenger to Frelimo’s electoral stranglehold. As unlikely as it may seem, Renamo’s return to the bush had proved to be a most effective campaign strategy.

It is also useful when it comes to negotiating the terms of Renamo’s future democratic engagement. On Sunday, Dhlakama declared the election a ‘charade.’ He warned that while he was committed to peacefully negotiating his differences with Frelimo, he couldn’t necessarily control his angry supporters – thus leaving the threat of violence hanging in the air as he voiced his demand for a government of national unity along Kenyan or Zimbabwean lines. Given Renamo’s history, and the new evidence of the strength of its support base, Renamo remains a threat that Frelimo can’t afford to ignore.

Simon Allison, ISS Consultant

South Africa – budget fails to give Zuma resources for Africa policing role

ISS

Nene fails to put his money where Zuma’s mouth is
23 October 2014

In his belt-tightening medium-term budget policy statement on Wednesday, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene failed to provide the considerably increased finances that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would require to tackle the enhanced peacemaking role that President Jacob Zuma envisages for it.

Nene’s gloomy – but realistic – mini budget raised searching questions, in particular about the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC). This is the clumsy name for what is supposed to be an African Union (AU) initiative to establish agile, rapid-response forces, formed from volunteer nations to tackle security crises across the continent.

ACIRC is very much Zuma’s pet project. It was inspired by the AU’s lack of progress in establishing its formal African Standby Force, which has, in the meantime, compelled the continent to rely on outside forces – particularly France – to come to the rescue in places like Mali and the Central African Republic. To Zuma in particular, this was tantamount to opening the door to neo-colonial meddling in Africa.

Zuma hosted the first ACIRC summit in Pretoria a year ago. He also expended substantial political capital in getting the initiative adopted by the AU at its summit in January this year. This was against the opposition of Nigeria, in particular, which feared that ACIRC was giving Pretoria too much power.

The review concluded that the Defence Force is in a critical state of decline

When the Defence Review Committee discussed its review with him before publishing it earlier this year, it was apparently Zuma who told it to scale up its ambition. The review, adopted by cabinet in March, concluded that the Defence Force is in a critical state of decline – both in its equipment and in the abilities of its personnel, of whom there were far too many, consuming some 52% of the R43 billion budget. The review authors set down five milestones to be reached, depending on the level of ambition that the government was prepared to invest in the rejuvenation of the force.

Milestone 1 was to immediately arrest the critical decline in critical capabilities; Milestone 2, rebalancing and reorganising the Defence Force as the foundation for future growth; Milestone 3, creating a sustainable Defence Force that can meet its current ordered commitments; Milestone 4, enhancing its capacity ‘to respond to nascent challenges in the strategic environment’ and Milestone 5, enabling it to fight a war to defend South Africa against attack.

Apparently the committee itself was ready to settle for Milestone 3, but Zuma – not surprisingly perhaps, urged it to go higher and it ended up recommending Milestone 4, which in effect meant beefing up the SANDF to play the role of peacemaker on the continent.

The committee calculated that the Defence Force budget would have to nearly double as a ratio of gross domestic product (GDP), from its current 1,1% to 2% (the global norm) to achieve Milestone 4.

Among the important additional capital costs would be for the Defence Force to acquire new airlift capacity, as its existing fleet of transport aircraft is too old or too small. This huge deficiency was fatally exposed in the Central African Republic in March 2013, when the Defence Force had to charter a private aircraft to reinforce its embattled troops on the ground, but the charter company decided it was too dangerous to fly in.

It was revealing that the United States offered support for establishing ACIRC headquarters

As Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies wrote in June this year in a policy brief titled The 2014 South African Defence Review: rebuilding after years of abuse, neglect and decay, fulfilling the review’s recommendations would require Finance Minister Nene to find an additional R11,7 billion in the 2014/15 financial year and R11,2 billion the year thereafter for defence.

But there was no sign of that in Nene’s statement on Wednesday, or in the accompanying adjusted estimates of expenditure. ACIRC received a passing mention as the estimates said the target for reserve force ‘person days’ would be increased to 2 871 852, due to the increased requirement of forces for ACIRC and border safeguarding.

But there was no money. ‘There is no additional allocation for the deployment of the defence force as part of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises in the mini budget for 2014,’ David Maynier, the defence spokesperson for the Democratic Alliance said. ‘With the Defence Force facing cuts of more than R700 million in this financial year, the deployment is unlikely to be funded from within the existing defence budget.

‘This means that an additional allocation will be required if the Defence Force has to deploy as part of the ACIRC, which itself is very unlikely. Our peace support operations ambitions are clearly not aligned with our peace support capacity.’

Does this then mean the end of South Africa’s leadership role – or any role for that matter – in ACIRC and the like? As Cilliers points out in his policy brief, the Defence Force has options, if it chooses to take them.

The one would be to make substantial savings in other areas, to free up money. The more obvious one would be to slash the bloated staff complement, many of whom are not fit for purpose. Another would simply be to separate the veterans’ administration from the Defence Force and move it to Social Welfare, where it perhaps more logically belongs.

However, political experts believe that staff cuts are probably out of the question. As one observed, African National Congress (ANC) politicians are mostly inclined to view the SANDF as first and foremost an employer, and only secondly, as a defender of the country’s sovereignty or of the continent’s peaceful development.

Another implicit cost-cutting option raised in the Defence Review was to ‘pursue the Defence Strategic Trajectory with the assistance of either a strategic partner or a number of strategic partners,’ rather than ‘implementing the Defence Strategic Trajectory independently.’ Cilliers pointed out that ‘on 17 March 2014, the cabinet elected in favour of the independent option, having apparently realised the challenges that the SANDF would face in relying on either Western, Chinese or Russian partners in the pursuit of the country’s regional stability ambitions.’

Nonetheless, the government might need to relook that option in the obvious absence of independent financing to realise its large continent ambitions. It was revealing that at the United States-Africa Leaders summit, which President Barack Obama hosted in Washington in August this year, the United States offered support, in training and logistics, for establishing an ACIRC headquarters capability. Was that a sign of things to come?

Peter Fabricius, Foreign Editor, Independent Newspapers, South Africa  ISS

Zimbabwe – Mujuru’s fight with Grace Mugabe; a lunatic with a whistle

V-P Joice Mujuru

V-P Joice Mujuru

New Zimbabwe

New Zimbabwe.Com :: The Zimbabwe News You Trust


Grace lunatic with a whistle, says VP

 

by: Staff Reporter
VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru has posted two sarcastic comments on her Facebook page which observers said were pointed at President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace.

NewZimbabwe.com could not however readily verify if indeed the Facebook account, (https://www.facebook.com/mujurujoice), belonged to Mujuru.

Mujuru has over the past four weeks been subjected to fierce attacks by Grace who accused her of fanning factionalism in the ruling Zanu PF party and plotting to oust her 90-year-old husband.

More significantly, Grace accused Mujuru of corruption, claiming she was engaged in illicit diamond dealing and running an extortion racket demanding ten percent shareholding in private companies.

Until now, Mujuru had maintained respectful silence as Grace ranted against her and her allies.

But in a post dated October 20, Mujuru denied turning her back on Mugabe as alleged by Grace.

She also dismissed the First Lady as a blabbermouth.

“Loyal to the President, loyal to the party, loyal to the liberation struggle, loyal to the people; muridzo haticheuke (we will not be swayed by those whistling in the dark),” Mujuru declared defiantly in the cryptic message.

Until the posting Mujuru was last on her page on February 20 this year.

She also posted a biting commentary on the recent political events that have seen Grace lash out at her during her meet-the-people rallies.

“Kana benzi rikabata pito…,” she said in another brief post, which can be loosely translated, when a deranged person is in charge . . .

Although Mujuru did not mention Grace by name, the comments were pregnant with meaning following the recent public attacks she has been subjected to over the last month.

The rift between Grace and Mujuru widened on Tuesday after the First Lady, who was coming from the Vatican together with her husband, declined to shake Mujuru’s hand.

Grace is apparently backing a faction within Zanu PF that is supporting Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

On Monday, opposition leader Simba Makoni criticised Grace for “straying into the territory of the state president” while NCA leader, Lovemore Madhuku, warned that the first lady risked being assassinated by hawks within Zanu PF if she takes over from her husband as state president.

Story from : NEWZIMBABWE.COM NEWS:

Sufi leader tries to unify Sudanese opposition leaders

Sudan Tribune

October 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the Sudanese Araki-Qadiri sufi sect, Abdalla Ahmed al-Rayah, has launched a new initiative aimed at unifying opposition forces.

JPEG - 25.6 kb
NCF chairman Farouk Abu Issa (L) pictured with NUP leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi (C) and PCP leader Hassan Al-Turabi (Photo: Reuters)

He invited opposition leaders to meet on Monday in his headquarters in Tayba area west of the Gazira state capital of Wad Medani.

Born in 1946, al-Rayah is considered the spiritual leader of the National Unionist Party (NUnP) founded by Sudan’s former president, Ismail al-Azhari. He is known for his solid opposition stances against military regimes.

The chairman of the NUnP, Youssef Mohamed Zain, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that the invitation has been extended to all opposition leaders, saying some of them apologies for not being able to attend the meeting due to a prior commitments but vowed to send delegates to represent them in the meeting.

In October 2009, opposition leaders including the National Umma Party (NUP) leader, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, Popular Congress Party (PCP) leader, Hassan al-Turabi, besides leading figures from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement attended a similar meeting in Tayba under the auspices of al-Rayah.

Zain said the invitation was extended to all opposition forces including the PCP, NUP, Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), all Arab Ba’athist and Naserite parties, various unionists’ factions besides the civil society groups.

He said the meetings aims to unify opposition forces following the recent divisions, noting the meeting will issue a call for unifying opposition forces according to a common minimum program.

Zain acknowledged failure of the opposition forces to deal with their differences, saying it was improper that opposition leaders criticise each other in the media.

He underscored the call which will be issued at the end of the meeting will focus on the need for mutual respect and joint work to achieve a state that is founded on citizenship and developing a strategy to remove the totalitarian rule.

On Saturday, al-Mahdi and the leader of the opposition umbrella National Consensus Forces (NCF), Farouk Abu Issa, met in the Egyptian capital, Cairo to discuss ways for unifying opposition forces.

They stressed in a joint statement on the need to expedite the unification process of opposition forces for “the liquidation of one-party regime, the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace and full democratic transformation” in Sudan.

The rare meeting was a serious move to contain differences between the NUP and the NCF following suspension of the former’s membership in the opposition alliance and recent accusations made by Abu Issa that the NUP seeks to establish a new opposition alliance.

Observers say the political opposition forces are damned to work together and to reunite their ranks despite repression and lack of means if they want to achieve true change in Sudan.

The rule of the successive military regime and the lack of democracy in the country largely contributed to these divisions and rifts as they are isolated from their supporters and deprived of money.

Zain further lashed at the government policies and the slow pace of the national dialogue, pointing to recent fierce arrest campaign carried out by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) against opposition leaders.

The NUnP chairman also pointed the government and the NCP are preoccupied with selection of president Omer Hassan al-Bashir as candidate for the 2015 election and ignoring the deep economic crisis.

(ST)