September 29, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is poised to fire former head of its parliamentary caucus Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani over a memo he sponsored along with 30 others that was sent to president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir yesterday, according to a newspaper report.
- Sudan’s ex-presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Din (Photo UN)
The signatories included party officials, lawmakers, retired military officers and Islamists who decried the government’s violent crackdown on protestors which led to 33 deaths according to official figures contrary to activists and opposition who put the death toll in the 100’s.
They also urged the government to reverse its decision to lift fuel subsidies which led to the week-long riots and to prosecute those behind the killings and asserted that the demonstrators were not allowed to "peacefully express their views in line with the constitution".
The petition emphasized that NCP sections did not agree with the move which government asserted was necessary to prevent an economic collapse.
The decision to lift subsidies led to almost doubling the prices of gasoline and diesel which is widely expected to immediately cause a domino effect of raising prices of other goods and services.
Al-Attabani, who was Bashir’s adviser, said that the 1989 coup led by the president came with the pledge of implementing the Islamic Shar’ia laws which prohibits shedding blood and calls for achieving justice among the subjects of the state and securing basic rights including the freedom of belief and expression.
"But the package of measures introduced by the government and the subsequent suppression of opponents is far from compassion, justice and the realization of the right to believe and peaceful expression," the letter reads.
"The legitimacy of your rule has never been at stake like it is today" they said in their letter to Bashir.
But on Sunday, Qays Ahmed Al-Mustafa, spokesperson for the NCP said that Bashir has received no such petition and called for ignoring rumours.
A copy of the memo was published on Attabani’s Facebook page and no denial was made on his part of co-sponsoring it.
Another NCP leading figure Hassabo Abdulrahman warned that the 31 signatories will be held accountable but added some of those whose names appeared on the memo denied endorsing it.
On Monday, the Al-Khartoum daily newspaper quoted informed source as saying that Attabani will soon be dismissed from the party.
Al-Attabani is widely known to be a leading figure in the reformist faction within the NCP and people close to him say that he is privately fiercely critical of the ruling party and its policies.
He has fought silent battles to initiate structural changes in the NCP and the underlying Islamist Movement (IM) but the party’s old guard has effectively shot down all his initiatives.
Last July he publicly released his vision of reform he is seeking in the government and state.
Al-Attabani was removed from his post as NCP majority leader in the national assembly which many said was in response to his assertions that Bashir is constitutionally barred from running again for presidency.
But many reformists in the NCP and IM are critical of Attabani saying that he is unwilling to take a firm and unequivocal stance against the government in his push for change and is only talking of change in very general terms.