Date: The eighth Islamic Movement General Conference was held from 16-17 November 2012
Location: Frienship Hall, Khartoum, Sudan
Attendence: An estimated 4,000 Sudanese Islamists as well as 150 foreign visitors. The opening session was also attended by a number of prominent foreign Islamists including Khalid Mishal, the leader of the Palestinian militant organization Hamas, and Rashid al-Ghannushi, the leader of Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement.
2012 Leadership Elections
Politics of the election of the Chairman of the IM Shura Council
Politics of IM Secretary General elections
The IM’s incumbent secretary-general, Sudan’s first Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, was not able to run again as he has already served two four-year terms - the limit under the IM’s constitution.
His challenger in the 2008 General Conference, Ghazi Salah Al-Din Al-Atabani, did not put himself forward to replace Taha in 2012. Insiders say the Al-Atabani has recently stepped out of decision-making circles due to what they described as his unhappiness with the way the NCP has handled a number of sensitive issues.
He was fiercely critical of the government’s response to the resolution issued on 24 April by the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) over the situation between Sudan and South Sudan following their brief war in the same month around the border oilfields of Heglig.
Al-Atabani publicly criticized the government for accepting the resolution and its subsequent referral to the UN Security Council (UNSC), basing his objections on what he described - in an op-ed published by the daily Sudanese newspaper Al-Intibaha on 30 April - as the introduction into the AUPSC resolution of articles biased in favor of South Sudan and against Khartoum by the international community.
Al-Atabani had been considered the most likely candidate to win the position, of Secretary General but multiple sources privy to the conference told Sudan Tribune at the time that he made his decision due to his objections to certain amendments introduced during the conference into the IM’s constitution and system of electing the secretary-general, which he saw interferences by influential government figures who pushed through amendments he opposes.
Ammendments to Islamic Movement’s Constitution
The amendments agreed at the 2012 IM conference established a Supreme Council consisting of top-level government officials, which means that the organization “has been conflated into the government” one source told Sudan Tribune at the time.
Among the amendments introduced is the creation of a Supreme Council to be chaired by members of the highest executive authority in the IM, meaning President Omer Al-Bashir and his deputies.
Another amendment made is that the IM shall only be dissolved if 70 percent of the participants of the next General Conference, due to be held after four years, voted to do it on the condition that the event must enjoy a quorum of 80 percent attendance.
The conference also ended internal disagreements on whether the secretary-general should be elected during the conference itself or by the 400-member Shura Council it elects. It was finally decided that the secretary-general will be elected by the Shura council after 1,800 conference participants voted for this proposal while only 600 members voted for electing the secretary-general by conference participants.
The newly-elected Shura Council met for the first time on Sunday 18 November to elect Mahdi Ibrahim as the new Chairman of the IM Shura Council and Alzubair Ahmad Al-Hassan as the new Secretary General.
As well as creating a new constitution for the movement and electing new post-holders, the conference discussed proposed papers on the concept of an Islamic State, the impact of South Sudan’s secession, general guidelines for the country’s constitution and the economy. The event will also elected the 400 members of the Shura Council.
Content of the 2012 conference
Ahead of the conference the 2012 event was expected to discuss the secession of South Sudan last year as well as the rise of Islamists to power in the wake of popular revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya in the “Arab Spring”.
The conference was also expected to witness heated debates in light of growing criticism against the perceived corruption of the NCP government and its violations of human rights as manifested in the mass arrests of opposition activists in the Sudan Revolts campaign.
There is also a great deal of discontent among Islamists, especially those who stepped away after the coup, against what they describe as the “undemocratic behaviour” of the NCP leadership as well as against the continued wars in the regions of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.
IM conference marred by criticism of government
The 2013 IM conference witnessed the emergence of strong criticisms among Islamists against the performance of executive and legislative authorities and their dealing of political and economic crises.
A number of participants called for electing professional members to lead the IM and the NCP in order to extricate the government from what some of them described as the clutches of corruption and nepotism.
The Islamic Movement (IM) was created by the NCP following the 1999 schism with its former leader Hassan Al-Turabi and his supporters who formed the Popular Congress Party (PCP).
The IM was designed to exist as a parallel and broader political base to support the Islamist orientation of the NCP regime and rally Sufi and radical Islamist groups under its umbrella, while excluding the PCP.
Al-Turabi issued a letter on Thursday distancing his party from the conference and blasting it as a charade designed by the NCP to monopolize Islamism and exclude his party.
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