March 2, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The main opposition coalition in Sudan has reportedly been plunged into an episode of discord over the participation of its member, the Popular Congress Party (PCP), in a conference of Islamic groups lobbying for a constitution based on Shariah laws.
- Leaders of Sudan’s opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF) after a meeting on 9 January 2012 (ST)
Local press reports published in the capital Khartoum on Friday quoted a well placed source as saying that disagreements had emerged between the parties allied under the National Consensus Forces (NCF) and the PCP over the attendance by its deputy secretary general, Abdellah Hassan Ahmad, of the conference of the Islamic Constitution Front (ICF) on Tuesday.
The PCP official attended and signed the founding statement of the ICF which includes Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood, Salafi Ansar Al-Suna, the far-right Just Peace Forum (JPF) as well as representatives of Sufi groups. The ICF coalition was established to push for an Islamic constitution after the secession of the mainly Christian South Sudan in July last year.
The conference was attended by other representatives of political parties including the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).
However, the PCP quickly dissociated itself from the ICF conference, and its deputy secretary general Abdallah Hassan Ahmed stressed that he was at the launch meeting in a personal capacity.
Similarly, the NCF issued a strongly worded statement condemning efforts to install an Islamic constitution and accusing the NCP of forging an alliance with “religious fanatics” in order to prolong its rule of “tyranny”.
The PCP’s political secretary Kalam Omer was quoted by local newspapers on Friday as reiterating that Ahmed’s attendance of the conference was personal and did not represent the PCP’s position. Omer also said that the PCP’s secretary general Hassan Al-Turabi was angered by the participation of his deputy and summoned him for a meeting on the issue.
But according to press reports, the PCP’s allies in the NCF did not buy the justification.
Khartoum newspapers reported that the NCF members rejected the PCP’s justification in a meeting on Thursday. The papers further reported, citing their anonymous source, that Kalam Omer walked out of the meeting in an expression of anger over the failure of allied opposition groups to understand what happened.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune, however, Omer denied the veracity of these reports. He stressed that he did not walk out of the meeting and threatened that his party would boycott any newspaper that publishes information without verifying them.
However, Omer admitted that some sides in the opposition were trying to exploit the situation.
He cited the example of the representative of the New Forces Movement known as HAQ who, according to Omer, was adamant during the coalition meeting that the PCP had deliberately sent its official to the conference as a tactical move before reversing its position later.
The PCP official said he was confident that a spy was present in the meeting and leaked distorted information to the papers.
However, he excluded the possibility that the meeting held at the PCP’s headquarters was bugged. He added that his party had conducted an extensive search for listening devices after the incident two weeks ago when the PCP claimed it discovered that its headquarters was bugged.
The PCP’s leader Hassan Al-Turabi, who was a close ally of President Bashir before becoming one of the government’s fiercest critics, accused the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) of spying on his party’s office after he allegedly found listening devices installed at the PCP’s headquarters.