March 25, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the Reform Now Party (RNP) Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani, has described the recent remarks by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir as a list of “mere wishes and slogans”.
- Leader of the Reform Now Party (RNP) Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani (Photo: Reuters)
On Sunday, Bashir laid out the guidelines of a reform plan before the cabinet in an emergency session in which he announced the formation of a higher committee comprised of five sub-committees to implement its articles noting that the move does not contradict the ongoing dialogue with political forces.
Attabani scoffed at Bashir’s call for drafting a new permanent constitution which is better than previous constitutions, wondering what type of justice has Bashir accomplished since he took power 25 years ago and to what extent does the government even respect the current constitution.
The former presidential adviser said in a post on the RNP Facebook page on Tuesday he senses that the political atmosphere is in a "time-out" mode and that he does not know the consequences of this situation, wondering about the possibility of holding national dialogue roundtable to the save the country as proposed earlier this year by the Sudanese president.
Al-Attabani lost his position last year as head of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) parliamentary caucus after publicly declaring that Bashir is constitutionally barred from running again for the presidency.
Al-Attabani was expelled from the NCP in late 2013 in the wake of a memo he drafted, along with more than two dozen party figures calling for the reversal of a decision to lift fuel subsidies and an end to the violent measures taken against demonstrators who took to the streets to protest.
The RNP leader said he is concerned about the cabinet’s decision to establish committees to implement the Bashir’s reform plan, saying the panels would proliferate to the extent that it would eventually only be seen with a “microscope”.
“If these committees are entrusted with implementing the reform plan, national dialogue will be killed”, al-Attabani said.
He noted that the problem doesn’t lie in the elite members of the society like himself who could easily find getaways, stressing that the government’s current approach will not resolve the country’s deepening crises including the economy, civil wars, strained foreign relations and the divided national front.
The former majority leader of the ruling party in parliament further said that he continues to be amazed by the government’s repeated unfulfilled promises on national dialogue, mocking at the debate which took place at the cabinet on the type of cars which government officials should use.
On Sunday’s cabinet emergency session, Bashir instructed ministers to inspect people’s conditions in the various states, announcing that government officials, including the president, would use the locally assembled Chinese cars BYD brand as part of the austerity measures.
The RNP leader noted that Bashir made the same promises on austerity measures before the parliament two years ago, saying those pledges never came through.
In a televised address to the nation late last January, the Sudanese leader announced a four-point plan for reform “to stop the war and bring peace, free political society, fight against poverty and revitalize national identity”.
He further called for political forces and even rebel groups should they lay down arms to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items to achieve these objectives.
Bashir afterwards met with several opposition leaders, but it is not yet clear how the dialogue call will be implemented amid deep skepticism over the willingness of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to implement deep reforms.
So far NCP officials, including Bashir, have brushed aside opposition calls for the 2015 elections to be delayed and the formation of a transitional government that would work on drafting a new constitution to prepare the country for the polls.
The opposition National Umma Party (NUP) and the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) are the only major opposition parties who have so far accepted Bashir’s call for national dialogue.
But both parties warned that they would pull out of dialogue with the NCP if no progress is made.