Prominent Journalists Give Their Say In Dialogue Outcome

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (Sudanow.info.sd) – National Dialogue Conference (NDC) has wounded up its protracted sessions with a massive rally organized by the Government of State of Khartoum in one of the Capital City’s largest public squares (the Green Square).

Sudanow hereunder reports what some of the country’s outstanding opinion writers had said about this dialogue, its shortcomings and its future outcome.

Editor –In-Chief of the Al-Ayyam (Days) newspaper, Mahojub Mohammad Salih has charged that the recommendations of the Dialogue committees ‘’were not new’’ as some of what those committees had recommended was established in the country’s Constitution ‘’ though not applied.’’

“The committee assigned to discuss the issue of the country’s identity had come out with a two-page paper written in a flowery language that talked so much, but said nothing .. It was just a repetition of a number of slogans without giving a single proposal on how those slogans can be put into practice. The committee had failed to give us even a single clause that condemns marginalization, guarantees the minorities rights or rules respect for the cultures, beliefs, values and heritage of all Sudanese ethnic groups.

“ What the paper on the country’s identity had said was already contained in the preambles and introductions of all the previous constitutions, though not heeded by anybody. It is stipulated in the current constitution, but was overlooked by the rulers, who even enacted laws that totally contradict it.

“Also if we move to the issue of governance, we notice that talk is still confined to the creation of executive posts. The topic that won much deliberation was the creation of a prime minister’s post as if all the crises of Sudan can be summed up in the absence of a prime minister’s office. The participants had forgotten that the constitution they have already proposed was presidential where the president of the republic controls all the powers. He has absolute power as elected president. He can amend the constitution. So any government office under such a situation would be meaningless as the president of the republic is the sole chief of the executive and the persons he appoints are directly responsible before him. Under such a situation the parliament can question the prime minister or any other executive, but it has no authority to dismiss them, as this is the jurisdiction of the president who appointed them. Now the question: Has the concerned committee recommended the amendment of the constitution and the adoption of a presidency with less powers? It did not do that as they consider such a radical amendment an infringement upon the presidency and its jurisdictions a matter which is out of question.’’

Osman Mirghani, Editor-In-Chief of the daily newspaper al-Tayyar (the current) has said the change he had hoped for was far from near.

“It seems change is still far away from us. Yesterday was the end of the national dialogue serial in a session graced by four heads of state (Egypt, Chad, Uganda and Mauritania). We had hoped that a new era was about to dawn upon us. But, unfortunately, we have found that we are still in the same place and at the same time.

I was gravely shocked to read about a mass demonstration called for by the government, the same old way of festive celebrations. Even if we skip the question about the sums of money wasted in empty slogans that do not calm a hungry stomach nor dress the wounds of a sick citizen, the question remains: What does the Government celebrate? This is just a document that has no constitutional or legal value until it is translated into resolutions and legislations. And before and after this, it should become an effective and an undisputed order. So why the celebrations, spent upon from our abject poverty? So what is the new thing that the Government is celebrating? By God ! Read this document line by line ..What is new in it that justifies these expensive celebrations that began with the so-called processions to handover the outcome of the Societal Dialogue while our country is battling a grave economic crisis? Recommendations! While the citizen is grilled with a hell of prices that escalate around the clock like indices of the stock exchange ..Why should the Government insist to revel upon the cries of the country and the citizen?’’

Says Merghani in another article: ’’ It is true that there were a thousand recommendations 97 percent of which were agreed upon. But, sadly, those recommendations were about undisputed issues .. For instance if the Dialogue members recommend that “ development is a dream of every Sudanese ‘’, would such a recommendation be worth all this effort and money and over and above the time of the ladies and gentlemen who assembled at the Friendship Hall for four long months?

It should have passed without saying that dialogue should have been on disputed issues. In that case we could have needed no more than two or three days, say a week. And after that we could go about our backward situation and try to catch up with the nations that jump in earnest, while we continue to crawl backwards.. in a race against clock.

Irrespective of the recommendations details, the real criterion is work.. as the current constitution is charged with many virtues that were left hanging in the air, without any legs to stand on. Sudan’s problem was not about more papers, documents or charters.. The world around us is changing fast while we continue to suffer from political directionless, for which the Sudanese people pay from their wasted time.

The people of Sudan now need a strong clue that change has become a reality that can be felt not just a written charter whose validity expires the day it is inaugurated.’’

Salah Eddin Awwooda , a columnist at al-Sayha (Call) daily newspaper wrote that:

“The output of the National Dialogue should not have taken all that time as the 99 percent of the issues discussed were not disagreed upon from the very beginning. They are universal values agreed upon by all the nations of the World.

Then: Why all this much ado about them?

Of these are the issues of identity, peace , development and transparency..

We have said time and again that our problem is that we talk too much.

Now it is our hope that talk is over and the hour for work is due. That is the question .. the question of work that always unmasks us..It is the test which we cannot pass even with a satisfactory grade. It is the end product we always avoid and seek to remain in the station of ‘’outputs’’, leaving the rate of 1% which is the crux of the matter. It is the rate that deserves talk , instead of wasting this talk on the 99% rate.

Can the Government get convinced about the need for political transformation or there remains a room for more manoeuvres?. Or does the Government find it difficult to wean itself after 27 years in power? Or will the habit of military regimes –as has been the case overtime- continue the same?.

I really liked the slogan that “Our dialogue has been completed , let’s go to work!’’

That is exactly what we want now: Work and nothing else, now that we have talked in full.

But we fear to be let down as we have been very much let down before.

For after every talk we come to realize that we have spent money, time and talk.

It is not executive posts that we need . What we need is to secure the country.

And securing the country should not mean to place Mubarak al-Fadel as prime minister.

It also should not be that al-Merghani replaces one of his sons with another in government office.

It should not mean the redistribution of executive posts among those who want them.

What we need is complete democratic transformation, a transformation in which there is no room for manoeuvres or deception.’’


Abdullatf al-Booni, a columnist and a professor of politics, proposes what he thinks could lead to a national consensus on the Dialogue output:

“ Now the Government has two ways to go:

First to immediately embark on the implementation of the Dialogue document through the writing of a document for national action that leads to the writing of a national constitution.

Second: The Government could approach the dialogue holdouts (armed and civilian) and engage them in discussions over the dialogue output.

But either of these choices is surrounded with problems.

For, if the government approaches the holdouts, it would be opening the dialogue once more, thus rendering the three years spent in the talks just a waste and giving the holdouts a veto that strengthens them politically and weakens its (the government’s) negotiating position.’’

Here Dr.al-Boony proposes a third path in which the dialogue document be passed to the opposition for comment after which a drafting committee can be set up from both parties to accommodate new ideas. This is what the Thabo Mbiki Road Map had proposed. After the document is redrafted a committee can be set up from all the parties to draft an implementation plan with respect to when and how. By that each party could have attained its rights and each party could have received a facelift.

Like the above mentioned writers, Boony said the Dialogue recommendations were not disputable in terms of content, but the real test is the implementation of such recommendations. The citizen needs freedom, equality and justice and all these values are embodied in the previous constitutions. What is needed now is a will to put them into practical terms. What is also needed is the eradication of corruption, freedom of expression and the launching of a comprehensive development programme, he said.



Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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