Muhammad Othman al-Mirghani
Asharq Al-Awsat Interview
Al-Mirghani called for the expeditious implementation of the national program with the National Congress Party, particularly the drafting of a new constitution for the coming stage. He urged all the national and political forces, the civic society organizations, and all the factions to come to an agreement on the program by which they will rule themselves. He stressed that all should participate in preparing and drafting this program without any tutelage or exclusion or isolation or dictation by any faction or group.
The highlights of the interview are as follows:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are your views on Sudan 57 years after it gained independence?
[Al-Mirghani] The National Unionist Party was the first party to establish an elected nationalist democratic rule in 1954. It carried out the process of liberation and evacuation and proclaimed independence on 1 January 1956. That is why we extremely sad to witness the present scene on 1 January 2013. Sudan’s area and population have diminished in the wake of the secession of the south. Dangers are surrounding it, especially in south Kordofan, the Blue Nile, and elsewhere. Sudan is now facing a strangulating economic crisis. Thus, based on our historic responsibility, we will not rest unless we exert serious efforts to safeguard the unity and safety of the homeland and its people. We can do so by unifying the will, maximizing energies, and achieving progress in order to restore Sudan to its vanguard position on the regional and international levels without any tutelage or interference in its affairs or violation of its land, skies, and waters.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you satisfied with participation in a broad-based government?
[Al-Mirghani] The issue of participation in the government is one not of satisfaction or dissatisfaction; the decision was dictated primarily by national considerations. Sudan is facing many serious threats and perils that require the full cohesion of all the national forces to confront and repulse them. The Democratic Unionist Party considers this a historic responsibility that necessitates the right and sound position. The goal is to confront the dangers and protect the country, not half solutions or vacillating positions on what is necessary and inevitable.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Does this mean commitment to partnership decision with the National Congress Party at this stage?
[Al-Mirghani] Our position on this partnership and decision is based on the national vision about the need to confront the major d angers that threaten Sudan and pushing it toward many potential perils. This vision embodies the axis and base of understanding and commitment to the decision as a national responsibility that we should shoulder. The issue of the nation – to be or not to be – must have priority. It is our responsibility along with all the national and political forces and other organizations to pool our efforts and have a united will to confront the national and pan-Arab challenge with wisdom and decisiveness in order to secure a united, strong, and stable homeland.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is required after a full year of partnership in power?
[Al-Mirghani] It is necessary to expedite the national program and its antecedents that are agreed upon and to draft a new constitution for the coming stage. We have called on the national and political forces as well as the civic society organizations and all factions to agree on a trend and an approach with which they will run their affairs with satisfaction and conviction, and agree on a constitution with the participation of all without tutelage or exclusion or isolation or dictates by any faction or side.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Has the National Congress Party become convinced of the partnership of the other forces to solve the main issues of the homeland?
[Al-Mirghani] We are totally and firmly convinced in the partnership of all the forces to repulse the current crises and problems. This partnership represents our firm principles that do not brook any one-upmanship. We believe that the National Congress Party is seriously marching toward the same goal. President Omar al-Bashir’s call on all the forces, factions, parties, and organizations – including the armed factions – to participate in the dialogue and draft Sudan’s new constitution reflects this approach. We once again reiterate that the homeland is in real danger. Our responsibility is to stand up to defend and protect it or else it will be lost and we will be lost along with it.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Where have the efforts reached regarding the unification of the national ranks and the comprehensive national consensus?
[Al-Mirghani] The persistent positive efforts continue. We continue to contact all the forces inside and outside the country. We are also in contact with those that bear arms and with the regions that are suffering from conflicts in order to achieve comprehensive and entrenched national accord and heal the rift that is continuing to expand. We will never give up exerting our utmost serious efforts to achieve it. We will not succumb to surrender and we will not accept the blood that is flowing every day or the wounds that are expanding every day. We have borne and shouldered the big responsibility toward the homeland that is above everyone and above all self-interests and outbidding. We stress the importance of solid and comprehensive national accord that is the lifeline of the homeland and its people. This truth should reside in the heart and mind of everyone; we will not rest until we achieve it, God willing.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think Sudan will see changes in the future?
[Al-Mirghani] Change is a life characteristic on all levels. If what is meant is political change, then it is inevitable and necessary; this is the nature of things. It is important to activate wisdom, deliberation, and positive vision so that the change would be in accordance with the legitimate and vital aspirations, the nature, mood, and awareness of the Sudanese people who reject excessiveness, deviation, tyranny, and violence. The Sudanese people always yearn for tolerance, understanding, dialogue, and the values of benevolent deeds and mutual acceptance and respect. In my opinion, change is coming; it is inevitable. It is vital to expect it and prepare for it so that it would inevitably lead to a better stage that would be more stable, reassuring, secure, prosperous, and demonstrating more cooperation among all.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your opinion on the performance of the opposition in Sudan?
[Al-Mirghani] It was the Democratic Unionist Party that founded the base of positive partnership between the government and the opposition when the national rule was established in the 1950s. The government and the opposition are two faces of the same coin in view of national affiliation. Cooperation and positive understanding are inevitable to achieve the supreme interests of the homeland. This requires digesting and absorbing all opinions, expertise, and trends in order to activate them positively in the service of the supreme goals of Sudan.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is the status of the preparations for convening the general congress of the Democratic Unionist Party?
[Al-Mirghani] Preparations to convene the meetings of the base are proceeding in all the towns and regions of Sudan with the active participation of all the members and in full responsibility and awareness. Some of these conferences have actually started and will continue to the end. We reiterate the call to reunite the unionist party. The national movement represents Sudan in all its diversity, heritage, principles, strength, and history. It is also the future of the next Sudan. The general congress will meet after the base committees complete their meetings in all parts of Sudan. We hope the general congress will mark a major resurgence to rally efforts and complete the process of building and development on all levels inside and outside Sudan.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your opinion on the latest developments in Egypt?
[Al-Mirghani] We are monitoring events in Egypt with extreme concern in view of the historic bonds between the two countries. Any crises or problems leading to instability in Egypt will necessarily affect its neighbours, especially Sudan. I have addressed messages to political leaders in Egypt on the need to exercise wisdom, resort to understanding and dialogue, and establish accords in visions in order to achieve the aspirations of the Egyptian people, carry Egypt to the shores of safety, unify the internal front, and back national unity so that Egypt would continue to occupy its leading position and effective role on the regional and international levels.