October 16, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of Sudan has emphatically denied reports that it has nominated Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha to replace President Omer Al-Bashir if he eventually decides to step down at the end of his current term in 2015.
- FILE PHOTO - Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir (L) talks to his second Vice President Ali Osman Taha (R) upon the first’s arrival from Qatar, on March 31, 2011 at Khartoum airport (Getty Images)
According to the NCP’s secretary of organization, Hamid Sidiq, told reporters in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday that the party did not even discuss the matter of who will succeed Al-Bashir let alone choosing a candidate.
Sidiq was reacting to statements in which Hassan Osman Riziq, the deputy secretary-general of the Islamic Movement (IM), told the subtly pro-government daily newspaper Al-Ray Al-Amm on Monday that the vice-president is the “strongest candidate” who will likely take over as President.
The IM is the Islamist intellectual base whose political wing, the National Islamic Front (NIF), took power in the 1989 coup before rebranding itself as the NCP which later split after NIF leader Hassan Al-Turabi was ousted following a power struggle with Omer Al-Bashir and Taha in 1999 and went to form the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP).
Although the IM maintains its separate organizational structure and seeks to paint itself as a non-partisan group of Islamists who are distant from the NCP-PCP animosity, it has been effectively under the control of the NCP with Taha serving as its secretary-general.
The NCP official, however, stressed that his denial of the veracity of Riziq’s comments should not be interpreted as indicating the existence of any confrontation or struggle between NCP and IM members.
Sidiq asserted that NCP members will remain loyal to, and under the authority of, the IM and there is no intention to change that fact.
The IM is currently preparing to hold its eighth general-congress which is slated for mid-November. As part of the grassroots stage of this process, the IM recently organized mini-elections in Khartoum to elect the members who will represent the state in the national general-congress.
The vote already steeped in controversy last week when deputy secretary-general Riziq told local newspapers that there are groups seeking to remove him from the position. At the same time, however, he downplayed reports of internal squabbles saying they are merely divergences of views.
Some local media reports recently suggested that there are attempts by some IM members who are disgruntled by the fact that the NCP did not give them positions in power to hijack the IM and use it to fight the NCP. This suggestion was fueled by the fact that many young members of the IM and the NCP are seeking what they describe as internal reforms and opportunities for new faces to emerge in the upper echelons of the NCP.
Ibrahim Ahmad Omer, chairman of the IM’s Shura Council and NCP member, said in August that Al-Turabi’s PCP will not be invited to the IM’s general congress which, according to him, will be attended by 4,000 Sudanese Islamists as well as 150 foreign visitors.
Taha already announced that he will not run for a third term as IM secretary-general during the general congress.
In a recent interview with the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, NCP senior member and former intelligence chief Qutbi Al-Mahdi said that if President Al-Bashir decides to step down, Taha should also step down.
“The two share the same experience and bear the same responsibility” he said.