photo by jon nicholson

news - Update: Sudan's Bashir Invites Opposition for Dialogue

october 5th, 2009

"Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Monday invited the country's opposition for talks aimed at avoiding clashes in next year's general election, a week after they threatened to boycott it.

'We wish to have general elections without violence. I invite all the parties to a dialogue...in order to reach a positive climate to hold elections,' Bashir told parliament.

Africa's largest country is to hold presidential, parliamentary and local elections in April 2010, its first general election since 1986.

After Bashir's coup in 1989, subsequent votes were slammed as a sham by the country's opposition.

Southern former rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), who now share a unity government with Bashir's National Congress Party, joined other opposition parties last week in threatening to boycott elections if the laws guaranteeing basic freedoms are not passed by November 30.

After its decades-long north-south civil war, Sudan adopted an interim constitution guaranteeing freedoms but the text clashed with old laws that remain in place.

'We will receive the laws and harmonise them with the constitution,' Bashir said, adding that a new national commission for human rights will also be formed.

'This parliamentary session comes at a crucial moment,' said Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in the war-torn western region of Darfur.

The president confirmed this weekend that he will stand in the April elections."

MORE: "Sudan's Bashir invites opposition for dialogue" (AFP)

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