Opposition chief calls for return of democracy in Sudan
28 Jan 2017 - 12:01
KHARTOUM, Sudan: Addressing supporters in Khartoum Thursday evening, Sudanese opposition leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi said he returned to the country -- after 30 months of self-imposed exile -- to restore democracy to Sudan.
He also vowed to resign from the leadership of the National Umma Party, Sudan’s largest opposition party, which he has led since 1967.
A two-time former prime minister, al-Mahdi praised last year’s "national dialogue" initiative between the Sudanese government and opposition, describing it as a "positive step" for the country’s political transition.
Al-Mahdi also commended the recent lifting of U.S. sanctions on Sudan, calling on the new U.S. administration to encourage democratization in the country, monitor its human rights record, and help end its ongoing civil conflicts.
Al-Mahdi returned to Sudan on Thursday afternoon following 30 months of self-imposed exile in Egyptian capital Cairo.
Al-Mahdi had resided in Cairo since mid-2014 after being detained by the Sudanese authorities for one month amid accusations that he had links with armed rebel groups.
Upon his arrival at Khartoum airport on Thursday, he was received by thousands of supporters amid stepped-up security measures across the capital.
He later marched with supporters -- a number of whom shouted anti-government slogans -- through the streets of the city.
Al-Mahdi, 81, has twice served as Sudan’s prime minister, once from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1986 to 1989, when his government was overthrown in a military coup led by Omar al-Bashir, the country’s current president.