September 12, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The leading member of the opposition coalition National Consensus Forces (NCF) of Sudan, Farouq Abu Issa, admitted on Wednesday that opposition parties have been weakened by years of crackdown from the regime, and announced the adoption of a new strategy that will see them confronting “repression with repression”
- FILE PHOTO - NUP’s leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi sitting between the PCP leader Hassan Al-Turabi (R) and Farouq Abu Isa (L) - Al-Jazzera Net
Speaking in a press conference held in the capital Khartoum, Abu Issa said that Sudanese opposition sustained several blows from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) which he said exercised continuous suppression of their activities and forced many of their members to migrate from Sudan.
Abu Issa also admitted that traditional opposition parties are no longer attractive to many popular circles because their experiences in power since independence were not successful.
The NCF is the largest opposition coalition and comprises mainstream opposition parties including the National Umma Party of Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi who had three stints in power as Prime Minister, and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by veteran Islamist Hassan Al-Turabi who was ousted from the NCP following a power struggle with President Al-Bashir in 1999.
NCF party members are known to be divided over the goal of regime change. While NUP leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi advocates the pursuit of soft change to come from within the NCP in order to avoid what he describes as the disintegration of Sudan in the event of a violent regime change, other parties especially the PCP appear committed to the goal of regime change through popular uprising and speak about coordination with armed rebel groups in the country’s peripheral regions of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Abu Issa said that their strategy in the coming period will be different from previous ones especially if the NCP continues to suppress street protests. “We will confront repression with repression” he warned.
Security authorities used force to confront a wave of small protests that erupted in June following the government’s partial ending of fuel subsides in response to the economic crisis that has been befalling the country since it lost three-quarters of its oil production due to South Sudan secession in July last year.
The protests were mainly popularized by anti-government youth groups such as Girifna and Sudan Change Now. Most NCF party members supported the protests but Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi said that his party did not throw its full weight behind the demonstrations which petered out with the advent of Ramadan.
Abu Issa dismissed the possibility of state integration and “Somalization” of Sudan in the event of a regime fall, saying that the chances of the state remaining intact are greater given what he described as the fact that Sudan has a “strong and regular army with great experiences”
“If the state was prone to collapse if would have already collapsed during the pinnacle of Darfur crisis” Abu Issa added.
He went on to defend the armed groups in the peripheries saying they believe in democratic transformation and are prepared to renounce armed struggle if change occurs.
“These groups are governed by constitutions and their leaders are politicians in the first place and not militants to reject democracy and rule of law.”
The opposition figure said it is likely that popular protests would resume because the economic situation that fueled them is still present.