September 23, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has downplayed the significance of the boycott by opposition parties of a meeting last week on drafting a permanent constitution for the country, describing the boycotters as being “without political clout.”
- FILE PHOTO - NUP’s leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi sitting between the PCP leader Hassan Al-Turabi (R) and Farouq Abu Isa (L) - Al-Jazzera Net
The head of the NCP’s political secretariat and second Vice-President, Al-Haj Adam Youssef, told reporters in the capital Khartoum on Sunday that 90 percent of the parties that were invited to the meeting by President Omer Al-Bashir last week did participate. He added that those who did not are “without political clout.”
The meeting was attended by representatives of political parties allied with the NCP but boycotted by mainstream opposition parties including the National Umma Party of former Prime Minister Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, the Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Al-Turabi and the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP).
The boycotting parties described the invitation to the meeting as “a desperate fooling attempt”, in the words of Farouq Abu Issa, the head of the coalition National Consensus Forces (NCF) under which the parties are allied.
NCF party members are accusing the NCP of seeking to concoct a constitution sustaining the party’s grip on power. They also insist that they will not participate in creating a new constitution under what they often describe as the NCP’s despotic regime as well as under flaring conflicts in the country’s peripheral regions of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Opposition allies continue to call for a comprehensive solution to the country’s crises, beginning with the dissolution of the NCP government and organization of a national conference bringing together all political forces and rebel groups to chart a way forward towards democratic reforms and redemption of the country’s historic imbalances of power and wealth sharing.
But the NCP is insisting on the legitimacy of its rule on the basis of the results of the 2010 national elections which opposition parties boycotted citing mass electoral fraud.
Youssef said that the political parties that participated in the meeting had agreed on the importance of seeking to persuade their peers who did not participate to join the process “regardless of their political and popular weight”
“We want this constitution to embody all the principles, ideas and goals that unify the people of Sudan” he said. He went on to call on all the people of Sudan in the country and abroad to participate in the debate about the constitution. He also called on holders of arms to renounce violent struggle and respond to calls for participating in the constitutional debate.
Sudan’s current interim constitution was installed in 2005 following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended more than two decades of civil wars in South Sudan and paved the way for the region’s independence in July last year.
NCP officials including President Al-Bashir indicated that the new constitution would be designed to reflect the country’s Arab and Islamic identity after the mainly Christian South Sudan seceded. Such statements encouraged Islamist groups in the country to form a body seeking to achieve the goal of an Islamic constitution.