January 26, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – A group of individuals describing themselves as veteran members of the National Islamic Front (NIF) have released a memo calling for the renouncement of the rule of its offshoot, the National Congress Party (NCP), and the establishment of a civil state.
- Sudan’s president Omer Al-Bashir prays alongside some of his senior aides following his re-election on 26 April 2010 (AP)
The new memo, dubbed ’milestones in the road of reform and development’, had been prepared since February but was only released to the media on Thursday.
Its under-signatories, who kept their names anonymous, identified themselves as people who have “spent decades in the service of the NIF in Sudan”, and whose efforts were “squandered” as a result of the NIF’s military coup in 1989 and the lust for power that split it into the NCP and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) of Hassan al-Turabi.
Sources told Sudan Tribune that the people behind the memo represent elite Islamist writers and thinkers who preferred to go on the sideline after the NIF took power and during the power struggle between the PCP and the NCP.
The difference between this memo and the previous ones which called for internal reforms is that the new memo calls on NIF members to distance themselves from the NCP and seek a “democratic system” that guarantees equal right to citizens.
The memo also stated that one of its goals is to restructure the NIF away from the influence of the NCP.
“Considering this regime [the NCP] as a custodian or supporter of the Islamist project is a figment of self-deception and detachment from reality,” the memo said.
The writers of the memo went on to detail a long list of failures they accused the current NCP regime of being responsible for, including the secession of South Sudan, the war in Darfur and the worsening situation of the economy.
But what stands out in the new memo is the call to establish a civil state that treats “the principles of freedom and justice as inalienable rights”. The memo defined a civil state as "a state where fundamental rights and freedoms are guaranteed, and where people are equal before the law regardless of gender, racial or religious discrimination”.
Sudan’s politically active Islamists, whether NCP or PCP members, advocate an Islamist state in the traditional sense of the word, which suggests a state based on a purely Islamic constitution that gives preferential treatment to Muslims over non-Muslims.
The insistence of Sudan’s ruling Islamists on implementing Shar’iah law is one of the factors that led to the secession of South Sudan after nearly half a century of intermittent civil war in the mainly Christian region.
The new memo also called for putting an end to internal wars and pushing for peace, development and eradication of corruption.
Meanwhile, a senior NCP official, Amin Hassan Omer, demanded that those behind the new memo reveal their identity. He stressed that his party will not deal with memos signed by anonymous people and that its worth can only be determined through the weight of the people who signed it.
Another reform memo created by hardline Islamists and calling for internal reforms appeared in the media last month.