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Sudan’s NCP may scrap probe against memo signatories: sources

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October 12, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) may end up shelving the probe started against some of its figures over a memo they sent to Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir this month.

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Bashir, who is also the NCP chairman, formed a committee headed by national assembly speaker Ibrahim Al-Tahir to query those whose names appeared in the petition that was circulated publicly.

The petition initially signed by 31 NCP members, criticized the government’s decision to remove subsidies on fuel and other basic commodities, saying it “harshly” impacted Sudanese citizens.

The signatories, that included former presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani along with several lawmakers and retired military officers, said parliament had not been consulted over the latest economic measures, which were opposed by sections of the NCP.

They also chided the government for the excessive violence used against protestors who took the streets against the subsidies cut and called for deep political and economic reforms.

Informed sources have said that the number of the signatories on the memo has reached 500.

The economic measures, which were implemented by the government last month, triggered some of the worst protests Sudan has seen in years, with the death toll surpassing 200 according to Amnesty International.

Several signatories including al-Attabani and MP Ihsan al-Ghabashawi refused to appear before the party’s commission of inquiry, pointing that out that the body has no legal basis and suggested that its establishment showed the lack of tolerance within the NCP to dissenting views.

Today, NCP sources told Sudan Tribune that Bashir will most likely not punish the memo signatories, said they expected that the whole issue would be referred to the NCP’s leadership office for decision following the Eid Al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) holiday.

The sources also did rule out the annulment of the decision to query the them in light of mounting voices calling for reform and change.

A signatory on the memo who preferred to stay anonymous, disclosed that they will hold a press conference after Eid Al-Adha holiday to clarify the issue and said that they would escalate the battle if the party decided to punish anyone, pointing to their firm and unified position.

He also revealed that large numbers of NCP members inside Sudan and abroad showed desire to join the reformists faction, predicting that punishment for the signatories would range between dismissal and suspension.

He lambasted the committee chair Al-Tahir, describing him as “incompetent”.

Last week, the spokesperson for NCP reformists, Abdel-Ghani Ahmed Idris, told Sudan Tribune from his residence in London that the NCP is no longer governed by rules and regulations but the “gun”, adding that the party’s institutions function only to implement the decisions of the dominant group.

He added that it has become clear that the NCP is “irreformable”, hinting to a possible split from it.

The first split within the NCP took place in 1999 following a bitter power struggle between Bashir and Islamist leader Hassan Al-Turabi, with the latter subsequently ousted from his post as parliament speaker.

Al-Turabi later established the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and has since been a vociferous critic of the very regime for which he orchestrated the army-backed seizure of power in 1989.

(ST)

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