October 22, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - A section in the governing National Congress Party (NCP) in Sudan that appears to be leading a rebellion within the party has ruled out defecting in wake of a decision this week to suspend their membership.
- Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani (Reuters)
Last month, more than 30 NCP figures released a highly publicized memo addressed to Sudanese president and NCP chairman Omer Hassan al-Bashir following protests that broke put in late September after the government’s decision to cut fuel subsidies which nearly doubled prices of gasoline and diesel.
The signatories included prominent NCP figure and ex-adviser to Bashir Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani, several lawmakers and retired army officers.
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. Sudanese authorities 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 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 challenged its legitimacy and standing to quiz them.
The head of the NCP organizational sector Hamed Sideeg confirmed reports that the committee handed suspension decision as was reported this week but said only 9 people out of the 30+ signatories were sanctioned.
Sideeg said that this move was not meant as a punishment but a form of action that falls within the committee’s powers. He disclosed that they also submitted a report to Bashir but did not disclose its contents.
The NCP official urged the memo signatories to refrain from discussing the issue in the media and limit it to the party’s confines.
Al-Attabani who is one of the 9 members suspended held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at his home in which he reiterated that he does not recognize the panel’s decision and pledged to continue his activities as normal.
He ruled out leaving the NCP to form a new party for the time being saying that continuing to push for reforms from within is more effective given the fact that the NCP is in control of the government.
"Anything according to the law is possible but we will not rule on that now and what we said is that we will remain in the NCP," al-Attabani said adding that he is optimistic about the prospects for positive developments under the current momentum.
"We chose to be in the NCP because the party in power and through influencing it can impact the political arena because if it succeeds it can improve the political life," he said.