August 29, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Islamic Movement (IM) in Sudan has announced the beginning of preparations to hold its general conference in mid November but said that the Islamist opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) of Hassan Al-Turabi will not be invited.
- Chairman of the Islamic Movement’s Shura Council and NCP figure Ibrahim Ahmad Omar in speaks during a press conference on 29 August 2012 (SUNA)
The ruling National Congress Party (NCP), following the 1999 schism with its former leader Al-Turabi and his supporters who formed the PCP, has established the IM to exist as a parallel and broader political base to support the Islamist orientation of the regime and rally Sufi and radical groups under its umbrella.
Ibrahim Ahmad Omer, Chairman of the IM’s Shura Council, announced in a press conference held in the capital Khartoum on Wednesday that the group had begun preparing for its eighth general conference which will be held on 16 and 17 November. The conference, according to Omer, will be attended by 4,000 Sudanese Islamists as well as 150 foreign visitors.
Omer, who is also a senior NCP member, said that invitations had already been extended to all Islamists except those affiliated to the PCP stressing that they are not part of the IM. The PCP boycotted the last IM conference in 2008 describing it as "governmental convention."
The IM’s general conference, which is held every four years, will take place amid complex and perhaps favourable circumstances following the secession of South Sudan last year as well as the rise of Islamists to power in the wake of popular revolts in what is widely referred to as the “Arab Spring” countries.
The conference is also expected to witness heated debates in light of growing criticism against the perceived corruption of the NCP government and its violations of human rights as manifested in the mass arrests of opposition activists.
There is also a great deal of discontent among Islamists, especially those who stepped away after the coup, against what they describe as the “undemocratic behaviour” of the NCP leadership as well as against the continued wars in the regions of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.
Omer said that the conference is expected to gain considerable attendance from Islamists in the Arab Spring countries. “All the [Islamist] movements that created the revolutions were present in Sudan and we maintain relationships with them” he stated.
He further revealed that the conference will create a new constitution for the movement and discuss proposed papers on the concept of an Islamic State, the impact of South Sudan secession, general guidelines for the country’s constitution and the economy. He also said that the conference would elect 400 members to the Shura Council, adding that the council’s next term will witness the emergence of “new faces”.
Omer was keen to point out that the IM’s secretary-general and first Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha would not be able to run as an incumbent because the current constitution does not allow more than two terms in the position.
Taha was elected to the position during the last conference after facing strong competition with current presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Din Al-Atabani.
It is not clear whether Al-Atabani intends to run again but insiders say the man has recently stepped out of decision-making circles due to what they described as his unhappiness with the way the NCP has handled a number of sensitive issues lately.