Sudan ruling party welcomes return of opposition figure

By Adel Abdul Rahim

KHARTOUM (AA) – Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Friday welcomed the return to Khartoum of Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the opposition National Umma Party.

The Sudanese News Agency quoted Faisal Hassan Ibrahim, the NCP’s deputy leader, as saying: “We welcome al-Mahdi’s return so long as he wants to engage in peaceful work in the country”.

Al-Mahdi left Sudan for Addis Ababa in February. Shortly afterward, State Security prosecutors in Sudan filed 10 criminal charges against the opposition figure, some of which potentially carry the death penalty.

The charges were based on complaints by the Sudanese security services, which accused him of maintaining links with “armed rebel groups” bent on “overthrowing the Sudanese government by force”.

In March, al-Mahdi went from Ethiopia to Cairo, where he stayed until the Egyptian authorities barred him from entering the country following a brief visit to Berlin in June.

He then moved on to London, where he remained for the next four months.

On Oct. 8, al-Mahdi said he was contacted by Sudanese government leaders who had urged him to return to Khartoum.

Along with leading the Sudan Appeal, an opposition coalition, al-Mahdi also heads up the Ansar sect, Sudan’s largest religious movement.