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Former NCP figure says Sudan faces grim future without reforms

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December 11, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The former presidential adviser and ex-head of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) parliamentary bloc Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani said that Sudan is looking at a bleak future if it delays or backtracks on reforms.

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Former adviser to Bashir and ex-head of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) parliamentary bloc Ghazi Salah al-Deen Al-Attabani

Al-Attabani who was speaking before a small group of Sudanese expatriates in the Qatari capital of Doha, said that the region is facing a historic turning point and major changes that require Sudanese political forces to demonstrate they have the will to do more.

"If reform in Sudan progresses, then there is a real opportunity to reassemble the energies of the country and move forward with a new national project" he said.

Al-Attabani who defected from the NCP last month to form a new party, refused to comment on the cabinet reshuffle this week by which several party strongmen namely 1st VP Ali Osman Taha and presidential assistant and NCP Vice chairman Nafie Ali Nafie lost their governmental posts.

The ex-presidential adviser was one of the main signatories of a memo sent last September to president Omer Hassan al-Bashir criticizing the government decision to lift fuel subsidies and its violent crackdown on protestors which led to hundreds of deaths.

The petition also urged Bashir to embrace reform and warned him that his personal legitimacy is now in question.

In response, Bashir formed a committee headed by the former national assembly speaker Ibrahim Al-Tahir to probe those whose names appeared in the memo.

The commission of inquiry recommended dismissing three members including al-Attabani and temporarily suspending nine others. The decision was endorsed by the NCP leadership council and Shura (Consultative) council.

Al-Attabani and others afterwards officially applied for registration of a new party under the name "Reform Now".

On Monday, the head of the NCP political sector al-Haj Adam Youssef made an indirect reference to the NCP defectors led by al-Attabani saying that they were taken by surprise after the government shakeup that took place.

"They couldn’t believe that the presidency would seek reform because some of them gave up on reform at a time when the [NCP] leadership was serious," said Youssef who still holds the position of the NCP’s political sector head.

But al-Attabani told the audience in Doha that they were willing to pursue reform from within the NCP "but that the party leadership and not the party took a decision to expel us".

"Our choice is now to work outside the NCP" he said and added that they have ideas that could contribute to the unification of the Sudanese political arena.

Al-Attabani said that the images seen by Sudanese in countries affected by the Arab Spring does not encourage them to proceed with street uprising even though the internal conditions of the country makes them rethink and take steps in that direction.

He pointed out that the general trend in Sudan is to walk towards reform rather than carry out violent change and acknowledged that the opposition has weakened because of government restrictions and harassment.

(ST)

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