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Sudan - Interview

Sudan’s Umma party set to ‘go forward’ on deal with rebels despite arrest of deputy leader


Sudanese authorities arrested a senior member of the Umma party after it signed a deal in Paris to work together with a coalition of rebel groups. Mariam al-Mahdi, deputy leader of the Umma party, was detained on Monday evening by security agents following her arrival at Khartoum airport. Mariam had visited Paris to sign a declaration with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an alliance of Sudanese rebel groups. RFI spoke to Siddig al-Mahdi, Mariam’s brother and a member of Umma’s political office.


Why have they detained her?

The only thing we can think of is her participation in the Paris declaration signed by the Umma party and SRF. She was there, attended and participated on behalf of the Umma party in addition to Sadiq al-Mahdi, the president of the party. She came back to Sudan. All was agreed upon, the political work to solve the problems of Sudan, the different conflicts, through dialogue and peaceful means. This is the only thing that happened. The Umma party has the right to do this. We can’t see any reason to detain her, but this is what happened.

Will this make you change your position on the deal signed with SRF?

No, not at all, it’s expected, they do this. Two or three months ago Sadiq himself, the president of the Umma party was imprisoned for almost a month, for nothing, for no reason. Even now we don’t know why. So, it’s expected they [the government] do that. The Umma party will go forward with this declaration because it was done to solve the problems of Sudan.

Do you know where she is being held at the moment?

We don’t know because security forces took her from the airplane, when the airplane landed they took her. We don’t know yet where she is. We were told by somebody that she’s at some building in Bahri, but whether she’s there or not, we don’t know yet.

On a personal level as her brother, you must be especially worried.

We’re worried on a personal level, but she’s a political leader and we expect that. As I told you two, three months ago her father was imprisoned and we expect that in this kind of regime. But we are worried about her, yes.

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