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Sudan ruling party rebels to form new party | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses a new session of Parliament, on April 1, 2013, in the capital Khartoum.(AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses a new session of Parliament, on April 1, 2013, in the capital Khartoum.(AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir addresses a new session of Parliament on April 1, 2013, in the capital, Khartoum.(AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

Khartoum, Asharq Al-Awsat—Leading members of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Sudan have announced their decision to leave and form a new political party.

The decision follows an announcement by the NCP’s leadership last week that it had suspended the membership of the 31 members who sent a memo calling for reforms and criticizing the government’s handling of recent protests.

Former speaker of the parliament and veteran Islamist leader Ghazi Al-Attabani told Asharq Al-Awsat that the group that sent the memo, known as the “Group of 31,” had reached the conclusion that “the leadership of the party does not want reform . . . because the party in power does not have new ideas and initiatives and does not even accept initiatives from its own members.”

Attabani added that the party’s inflexibility has led the group to decide to break away and form a new party.

He said there were many reformist forces within the NCP that agreed with the group’s ideas, and that the memo signed by the Group of 31 was signed by a further 200 people within two days.

Attabani claimed that the new party would reach out to the parts of society that had been ignored by the NCP.

He ridiculed the NCP’s decision to suspend him and the other members, saying, “We remained members before the NCP issued the decision, and we said clearly that we wanted reform, but we were not given the option of reform. This party has no hope of progressing or producing anything new and will always remain a closed party whose leadership only thinks of security and retribution, which will not give anything to the political arena.”

He strongly denied that the group had tried to appeal the decision to suspend them, saying that “this is a very suspicious act. The accountability committee was formed in consultation with a limited number of members and without any legal basis, which makes it a committee with suspicious aims.”

He accused the head of the committee, parliament speaker Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir, of being a man who was “well known for passing the agenda of others,” and that the suspension was issued “in the same way [NCP] decisions are normally issued. . . . It was malicious and aimed to settle scores with people who were independent in their views and who made initiatives which the NCP leaders could not accept and, therefore, there was no value in any appeal.”

As well as criticizing the NCP, Attabani described the Sudanese Islamist Movement, the political arm of the Sudanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, as being affiliated to the government and a tool to carry out certain tasks, adding that it had no political influence.

He accused the NCP of dismantling rival political parties and the Islamist movement, denying that his group was calling for uniting the Islamists. He added that “we may be interested in uniting the Islamist movement in future, but it is not the important issue in Sudan now, and it is not an important to me personally now.” He added, “Let’s think about what is more beneficial to the Sudanese people.”

Another member of the Group of 31 who was also suspended from the NCP, Fadlallah Ahmed Abdallah, said the ruling party had “fired a mercy bullet at the reform process within the party, forcing the group to form a new party which reaches out to all Sudanese people, and attracts nationalist personalities, and which will be announced within a week when all legal procedures to form the party have been completed.”

He said preserving Sudan’s unity was more important than the unity of the Islamist movement and that “we are talking about a Sudan in peril, and our main concern is how to unite Sudanese people to keep the country united.”

Meanwhile, Osama Tawfiq, a leading member in a reformist group called Sa’ihoun, which was formed more than a year ago, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his group represented the main force for reformists and will hold a meeting in the next couple of days to decide whether to join the new entity.