October 21, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The former presidential adviser and ex-head of the parliamentary caucus for the governing National Congress Party (NCP) Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani blasted a decision by a party panel to suspend him describing it as "illegitimate".
- Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani (AFP)
Al-Attabani saw his membership in the NCP frozen along with 30 other figures who submitted a highly publicized memo to president Omer Hassan al-Bashir last month following protests that broke put in late September in the wake of the government’s decision to cut fuel subsidies which nearly doubled prices of gasoline and diesel.
The petition called for reinstating the subsidies due to its "harsh" impact on ordinary Sudanese and chided the government for excessive violence used against protestors.
Khartoum announced that close to 70 people were killed during the demonstrations while activists and rights groups say that hundreds have perished.
"The legitimacy of your rule has never been at stake like it is today" they said in their letter to Bashir which was seen as a direct challenge to the president who is now the country’s longest serving leader.
Initially the NCP denied the existence of such a letter but later admitted it and revealed that Bashir, who is also the party’s chairman, formed a committee to probe the memo’s signatories and come up with recommendations.
Al-Attabani along with several others refused to appear before the committee and vowed to resist any adverse decision.
Today the former presidential adviser responded to the NCP decision by accusing the investigation panel of lacking impartiality and standing to hold him and others accountable.
In his Facebook page al-Attabani said the formation of the commission was not a decision taken by the NCP leadership council or any other internal body but through personal deliberations between a "limited" number of top NCP officials.
He went on to say that he is bewildered by the NCP dedication of time and effort to quiz them while ignoring the country’s pressing problems.
This al-Attabani said, leads him to believe that some NCP leaders have little tolerance for dissenting views at a time when the recent protests should have prompted the ruling party to do some soul searching that would have strengthened the NCP and made it more qualified to lead the country.
"If it is proven that NCP leaders of are incapable of unifying their internal ranks and reconciling with their bases then they will not be able to present themselves as a compelling and competent leadership to address the problems of the country and unify it," he said.
He did not address reports that he resigned but pledged to avoid sideshows and instead focus on "positive activities" and table more political initiatives.
In separate statements to the pro-government Ashorooq TV, al-Attabani said the decision to freeze his membership and others gave them a higher footing and will make their voices heard louder.
"We do not qualify for political action through the recognition by a commission and our voice will be higher no doubt, and political programs will be clearer and more direct" he said.
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.