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Opposition Parties Meet Following Landmark Deal

Sudanese opposition parties, under their umbrella organisation, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), on Monday began a five-day meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, to discuss political developments after the recent peace accord signed by Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).
16 February 2005 - News Article by IRIN

"Top executive members of the NDA are discussing how they can prepare their parties for participation in the political arrangement in Sudan after the signing of the peace agreement ... and how to prepare the people for democracy," Mutaz el Fahal, an executive member of NDA, told IRIN.
He said 30 top NDA officials were attending the conference which started on Monday. It is funded by the US-based International Republican Institute, and aimed at strengthening and developing the opposition parties.

"They are being trained about organisational skills, about democracy and about party development and strengthening," Mark Schlachter, spokesman for the US embassy in Uganda, told IRIN.

Members of the NDA include the Democratic Unionist Party, the Sudanese Communist party, Darfur's Sudan Liberation Movement/Army, and the SPLM/A, Sudan's largest rebel force.

Noting that his embassy had neither been informed of nor invited to the meeting, Sirajuddin Hamid Yousuf, Sudan's Ambassador to Uganda, nevertheless commended its organisers.

"We welcome these type of arrangements because they will create a vibrant political society in Sudan after the peace accord," he said.

A preliminary peace agreement signed on 16 January in Cairo, Egypt, determined that the ruling National Congress Party would have a 52 percent stake in the government, while the SPLM/A would have 28 percent. Southern Sudanese who were not SPLM/A supporters would get six percent, the NDA would have a 14 percent share and also participate in the country's constitutional review.

The Cairo agreement was expected to consolidate the comprehensive peace accord signed between the government and the SPLM/A on 9 January. It supports the southern peace agreement, backs the drafting of a new constitution and calls for the formation of a neutral, professional army.

The NDA was established in 1989 following a coup in which Sudanese president Omar el-Bashir overthrew Sudan's last democratically elected prime minister, Sadiq el-Mahdi. It was seen as a rival to the Al-Umma party of Sadek al-Mahdi - Sudan's legal opposition - and the outlawed Popular Congress of jailed Islamist Hassan al-Turabi.

During the past 16 years, armed NDA members fought alongside the SPLM/A in the southern civil war, which left 2 million people dead, and launched sabotage attacks and other low-level violence in Sudan's north and east in opposition to el-Bashir's regime.

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