May 5, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Mubarak al-Fadil, a leading figure in Sudan’s National Umma Party (NUP), announced that he will return to Khartoum on Tuesday in response to what he claimed are appeals by party members who asked him to step in and avert an imminent crisis brewing within the opposition party.
- Mubarak al-Fadil (ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
In a statement distributed via email on Monday, al-Fadil noted that he decided in May 2012 to stay away from the strife engulfing the NUP after failing to convince its leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi to hold a comprehensive reconciliation with party veterans and “revolutionary youths” who are looking for change within the party and the country.
“My goal from this was to have Mr. al-Sadiq al-Mahdi sense what is going on [within the NUP] away from the conspiracy theory which he used as a response to cries for change within the Umma Party to evade the required deliverables,” al-Fadil said.
Al-Fadil, who is al-Mahdi’s cousin, defected from the NUP in 2002 and formed the Umma Reform and Renewal Party (URRP). He was of the view at the time that the NUP should take part in the government while al-Mahdi rejected any participation in a non-democratically elected government.
The two men exchanged bitter accusations during the years 2002-2003. He was appointed as a presidential adviser for economic affairs in 2002. Several members of his newly created party were also appointed in various positions in the government.
He was sacked in 2004 after a dispute with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and was arrested in 2007 with a number of retired army generals and accused of attempting to stage a coup but was released five months later after it was revealed that the evidence against him and the others was fabricated.
Al-Fadil disbanded his breakaway group and rejoined the NUP in January 2011. The two men appeared to have normalised their relationship briefly before differences emerged and they renewed their personal attacks on each other.
In his press release, al-Fadil noted that last week’s Central Commission meeting of the NUP confirmed the “deep divide between the party chief and a broad and important sector of leaders, cadres and youths which threatens an imminent explosion and another major split within the membership of the party that stayed with Mr. Sadiq al-Mahdi and formed the faction that has been supportive of him throughout the past period”.
The NUP leader at the meeting asked members of the Central Commission to relieve the former Secretary General Ibrahim al-Amin in light of his “failure” to create a consensual secretariat among other reasons.
The meeting eventually elected the head of the party’s Political Secretariat, Sara Nugdalla, as its next secretary-general.
Al-Mahdi had tabled three names including Nugdalla but offered special praise to her. The other two eventually withdrew their nomination. This is the first time the party has picked a female figure for the position.
Al-Amin boycotted the meetings and argued that the current term of the Central Commission expired a year ago and therefore it is an interim one with no mandate except to prepare for the party’s General Convention, which is tasked with electing members of the NUP to various bodies.
In an interview published on pro-opposition al-Rakoba website, al-Amin suggested that al-Mahdi is acting on behalf of the party without consulting with NUP bodies.
He recalled an announcement by the Sudanese president few months ago that they have reached a deal with the NUP after six months of negotiations which he said no one in the party was aware of.
Al-Amin said that this proves that there is a major deal that was sealed between the NUP and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to affirm that the two parties’ futures are interlinked and to solidify Abdel-Rahman al-Sadiq al-Mahdi position as Bashir’s assistant.
“This is why I divided the party into two schools; the first is allied with the NCP and the second is the school of alliance with the oppressed Sudanese people who are deprived of the basics of life and the masses that seek to change the regime and establish a new democratic order,” al-Amin said.
Despite initially distancing himself from his eldest son’s Abdel-Rahman decision in 2011 to become president Bashir’s assistant, al-Mahdi later praised his son’s qualifications to fill this role.
Al-Amin said he believes that Abdel-Rahman’s move was endorsed by his father and even if he was not happy with it he would still have supported it because al-Mahdi “has a soft spot for his children”.
According to al-Amin, Abdel-Rahman carried an offer a year ago from Bashir to give him money. When he disclosed this to al-Mahdi, the latter told him that the NCP wants to shut him up which aggravated him further and made him extra careful in his dealings with pro-NCP figures in the party.
He stressed that they are not opposed to dialogue with the NCP-led government but said that the ongoing national dialogue called for by Bashir since last January is aimed at breathing life into the regime at the expense of the nation and future generations.
The ousted secretary-general claimed that there is a small controlling group in the party working against the goal of a popular uprising to serve their personal interests.
He accused his predecessor Sideeg Ismail of corroborating with the security apparatus to split anti-Khartoum rebels comprised of Darfuri movements and the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N).
Observers say that al-Mahdi has been uneasy with the election of al-Amin in 2012 over Ismail who is viewed suspiciously by the NUP base as being close to the NCP but is strongly backed by al-Mahdi.
Al-Mahdi afterward appointed Ismail as his vice-president in a move that was seen as a challenge to his ouster from the secretary-general post.
Al-Amin disclosed that he along with supporters of this line within the NUP will work to reach out to the party’s base to unite behind the goal of change after which they will seek to get other political forces behind it.
He emphasised that they will not seek to depart and create a new party but will work from within to push for their views.
Al-Mahdi has consistently been critical in recent years of the opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) of which his party is a member and publicly questioned their ability to remove the regime.
He also frequently stated that he seeks to reform the NCP-led regime and not topple it warning that this could trigger a civil war.
Those who are against this strategy, al-Mahdi said can go ahead and form their own parties.
In a public letter to al-Mahdi last week, al-Fadil urged him to step down to give room to a new generation and play a symbolic role in the background.
But during the Central Commission meeting, al-Mahdi gave a subtle response saying that those who call for his resignation are “jealous” people want to destroy the party.