June 14, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A senior Sudanese official today has harshly criticised opposition parties, accusing them of being unable to offer alternative political and economic programs and threatening to hold general elections as planned next year on time if the opposition refuses to engage in national dialogue.
- Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (R), flanked by presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour, gives a speech in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on 27 January 2014 (Photo: AP/Abd Raouf)
Presidential assistant and deputy chairman of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Ibrahim Ghandour, scoffed at those who claim that his party suffers from internal divisions, swearing to god that his party has never been more unified and stronger in its history than it is today.
He added that wishful thinking about an NCP split and weakening is an impossible one, advising his party members not to listen to those who speak about divisions within the NCP.
Ghandour, who addressed the NCP grassroots conference at Um-Badda neighborhood in Omdurman on Saturday, blasted the opposition alliance, saying its parties don’t have an alternative political and economic reform program.
“The opposition offers nothing but criticism and offenses”, he said.
The presidential assistant slammed opposition’s mocking and questioning of the NCP members, pointing that 6 million out of 10 million members took part in more than 26,000 grassroots conferences.
He described those parties as “one-man and one-family” parties, claiming the NCP is the only governing party in Sudan’s history to table a reform document.
The NCP official said that reform means further improvement in performance, noting the reform document would not ignore internal reform within the party.
Ghandour underscored that they will continue to open the doors for dialogue, saying they will be prepared to partake in the general elections if opposition parties continue to refuse to engage in dialogue.
“When the elections commission announces election date, we will go ahead”, he said.
Sudanese officials in the past said 2015 general elections will proceed as planned irrespective of the national dialogue process.
He called upon rebel groups to join the national dialogue, saying the government sought to negotiate with the arms bearers everywhere.
Ghandour urged armed groups to resort to comprehensive dialogue, stressing that armed conflict will eventually be brought to an end.
“The government is ready to declare a comprehensive ceasefire in spite of its victories on the battlefield”, he added.
Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalizing national identity.
He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last April with the participation of 83 political parties.
The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.
Last week, the Reform Now Party (RNP), led by former presidential adviser Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Attabani, announced its intention to suspend its participation in the ongoing national dialogue process in response to what it described as a series of setbacks to political freedoms in the country.
It also cited the arrest of the National Umma Party (NUP) chief al-Sadiq al-Mahdi last month as a reason for its decision along with government crackdown on media and political freedoms.
The governor of Khartoum state and chairman of the NCP in the state, Abdel-Rahman al-Khidir, said the number of the NCP members who attended the basic conference in Um Badda is more than those who attended the political meeting of the “old” party, noting that party failed to bring more than 2,500 of its members to attend the meeting.
He was alluding to the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) which recently held a political meeting in Omdurman.
Al-Khidir said opposition parties realised its inability to compete with the NCP and that is why they began attacking NCP leadership through the social media.
“Show me if there is a political party with a strong base like that of the NCP”, he added.
The governor pointed to failure of all attempts to stop president Omer Hassan al-Bashir from travelling abroad; stressing that NCP membership is growing remarkably.
“The NCP is not the party of government but it is the party which forms the government”, he said.