October 24, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - A meeting of the leadership council of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) chaired by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir paved the way for getting rid of several prominent dissidents who recently went public with their criticisms of the government.
- Sudanese parliamentary speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir speaks during a meeting in Khartoum on March 28, 2012 (GETTY)
The top NCP body recommended expelling Bashir’s ex-aide and former head of the NCP parliamentary bloc Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani, spokesman of ‘NCP Reformist Movement’ Fadlallah Ahmed Abdallah and NCP leading figure Hassan Osman Rizk.
The three are considered among the main drafters of a petition submitted openly to president Bashir last month following the government’s decision to cut fuel subsidies which triggered a deadly wave of protests across the country that killed at least 60 people according to official figures and more than 200 as reported by activists and rights groups.
The memo signed by more than 30 NCP figures that included lawmakers and retired army officers, called for reinstating the subsidies due to its "harsh" impact on ordinary Sudanese and called on the government to prosecute those behind the use excessive violence and live ammunition against protestors.
They also urged Bashir to form a mechanism for national reconciliation comprised of various political forces and assign the economic dossier to a professional national economic team.
"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.
Apparently angered by the rare public criticism from his own ranks, Bashir established an investigation committee headed by the parliament speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir to probe the signatories.
Several of the signatories including al-Attabani refused to appear before the panel and questioned its legality and standing. They also said its formation shows the lack of tolerance inside the party for different views.
Al-Tahir briefed Bashir and members of the NCP leadership council until early Thursday hours on the results of his committee’s work that was devoted to explaining in depth the extent of the reformist movement within the party.
The speaker told reporters afterwards that he explained the actions of the memo signatories in light of article 5 of the NCP charter which outlines the membership duties.
He said that the investigation proved that this group led an organized action parallel to that of the NCP, held regular meetings at al-Attabani’s house and contacted opposition parties seeking alliances.
Al-Tahir stressed that the NCP members should have rallied behind the state to confront the violence of the demonstrations adding that the memo vitalized internal and external opposition groups.
The committee also cleared four NCP members, reprimanded three and froze the membership of six including prominent Islamist figure Osama Tawfig, al-Attabani’s wife Samia Habbani, Ret. Brig. Salah al-Deen Karrar who was one of the main plotters of the 1989 coup, Ahmed Khalil Hamza, Ja’afar al-Sharif and Ahmed al-Da’ak.
Al-Tahir emphasized that the punishments received strong NCP backing because he said that they are a party that has rules and regulations so its members must be disciplined.
"Otherwise, acting lax with these situations will open the gates of chaos," he warned.
There was no official reaction from the NCP members who were punished but there were speculations that they will formally announce defection in the coming days.
The recommendations will now be reviewed by the NCP Shura (consultative) Council to endorse or reject.