December 28, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir dismissed calls by the opposition for the formation of a national unity government following the likely split of the South in the referendum that is a little over a week away.
- Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir (AFP)
On Monday, the major opposition parties in North Sudan threatened to join ranks to topple the government of the National Congress Party (NCP) led by Bashir if the latter does not respond positively to its demands.
But the Sudanese leader categorically rejected the ultimatum saying that he and his party were empowered by the general elections that took place last April.
"The government is not a revolutionary council or any government that can be ousted but it is the Sudanese people," Bashir told supporters in Al-Gezira state where he inaugurated several projects on the occasion of memorial day.
"Whoever wants to overthrow the government can lick his elbow..... There will not be a national government," he said.
The NCP chief said that anyone who wants to rule "should head to their grassroots starting now rather than whine" and stressed that only polls will change the government with next elections due in five years.
The last general elections have given the NCP an overwhelming majority in the parliament while retaining the presidency. Most opposition parties boycotted the elections and even those that participated managed to gain only a handful of seats in the national assembly.
The international community while noting the flaws and logistical failures recognized its outcome.
Bashir lashed out at the West saying that they have persistently attempted to bring down his regime since coming to power in a bloodless coup in 1989. He said this was for the purpose of making Sudan back down on implementation of Islamic Sharia’a law.
"They [the West] have tried us and we tried them. They figured us out and we figured them out. They tried to make us kneel through sanctions, pressure and missiles but we will not backpedal on Sharia’a," he said.
He said that Western nations need Islamic Sharia’a law to cure "moral degeneration" which according to Bashir led these countries to legalize gay marriages.
This month the Sudanese president came under criticism domestically for announcing that he will no longer recognize ethnic and cultural diversity after the South goes away saying that Islamic law will be reinforced and that Arabic will become the state’s official language.
The current constitution recognizes the "multi-ethnic," "multi-cultural" and "multi-faith" status of the Sudanese state, and is based on both Shari’a, or Islamic law, and the "consensus" of the population.
Opposition claim that the NCP wants to suppress opposition through the cover of Islamic Shari’a law.
On the South, Bashir said that his government will respect the decision of Southerners in the referendum and pledged to assist the new state.
"The ball is in your court and the decision is yours. If you say unity, welcome. And if you say secession, also welcome, and welcome to a new brotherly state," he said.
"We are going to cooperate and integrate in all areas because what is between us is more than what is between any other countries" Bashir added.
Pagan Amum, secretary general of the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), welcomed Bashir’s comments.
"This is the positive outlook we are calling for ... This is precisely what we are saying," he told reporters in Khartoum.
"We are calling on the people of northern Sudan to be in solidarity with the people of southern Sudan as they begin to build their own independent state."
"They need their solidarity, while the people of southern Sudan need to give solidarity to the people of the north as they begin a new journey of building a new state in what remains after the separation of the south."
The NCP has recently resigned itself to the South’s split but accused the SPLM of intimidating voters during the registration process to ensure that independence is the outcome.
Sudanese officials have softened their stance on insisting that the referendum be transparent and credible for them to recognize it.
The Sudan constitutional court is expected to rule on legal challenges before it that seek to annul the voter registration process. The SPLM claimed that the NCP stands behind this court move.