Sudan President Omar al-Bashir is fighting to maintain the sovereignty of his central African nation., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
MONDAY 27 JANUARY 2014
Sudan awaits Bashir’s speech on political reform
January 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir will deliver a speech on Monday detailing the comprehensive political reform document prepared by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).
Several senior political figures are expected to attend the speech including some from opposition parties.
The NCP’s political secretary and the country’s investment minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said in statements on Sunday that his party invited all political parties to attend this important speech, saying it contains positive indicators to improve the political process.
So far only the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) announced that it officially accepted the NCP’s invitation to attend the speech.
The NUP’s higher coordination council welcomed the invitation, saying that dialogue should be based on several standards including restoring state’s impartiality, launching a comprehensive peace process, agreeing on national solutions for the economy through a national economic conference.
It pointed to the need for developing independent and neutral national mechanisms to secure free and fair elections besides agreeing on foreign relations to further and protect national interests. The opposition also demanded the establishment of a national government that does not exclude anyone in order to carry out those standards.
The opposition alliance National Consensus Forces (NCF) on the other hand renewed its call for toppling the regime and establishing an interim government along with releasing all political detainees.
The NCF’s chairman, Farouq Abu-Issa, stressed that Sudan’s problems will not be resolved through surprises or gifts but through engaging in a comprehensive dialogue with the participation of all political forces including rebel groups.
The Secretary General of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) Yasser Arman, fiercely attacked president Bashir, saying his surprise to the Sudanese people is nothing but a deception attempt to avoid making real change.
In statements released on Sunday Arman noted that NCP leaders seek to exploit the reform slogan against change process in order to reproduce the old regime, emphasizing that modern states and societies are not built through surprises like circus performances.
Arman mentioned that Bashir rejected reform even within his own party and dismissed members who called for change including former presidential adviser Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani and Hassan Osman Rizg.
He further said that Bashir has domesticated the Sudanese Islamic Movement (IM) and called on him to recognize the political crisis and concur with all national partners on ways to resolve it, adding that recent government changes have taken conflict within the NCP to a new level.
Sudanese officials have for months been talking of an initiative being worked on by Bashir that would radically alter the political landscape and would accommodate all parties and groups in the country.
The visiting United States former president Jimmy Carter told reporters after meeting with Bashir on Tuesday that the latter informed him of his intention to declare "important" political decisions in the coming days but offered no details.
Some aspects of the lengthy reform document prepared by the NCP was revealed by the al-Ayam newspaper and included
•Reaching peace with internal rivals through dialogue that would also be incorporated in a new constitution;
•Democratic transformation that would see the people enjoying freedom of association, freedom to form political parties and freedom of expression among others;
•Launching a program for poverty reduction that would eliminate claims of marginalization;
•Resolving the issue of the country’s identity and making citizenship the basis of all rights
Some observers predicted that Bashir would dissolve the parliament and form a national transitional government while a new constitution is being drafted.
But the NCP’s deputy secretary of information Qubais Ahmed al-Mustafa described predictions of forming a transitional government as “mere exaggerations”.
Al-Mustafa said that Bashir would announce an integrated reform initiative reflecting readiness to engage in equitable dialogue with all political forces in order to produce tangible results on issues of constitution, national consensus, new initiatives and ideas making.
The speaker of the Sudanese parliament al-Fatih Izz al-Deen also dismissed forecasts that the national assembly would be dissolved but described the president’s upcoming speech as one that would carry surprises of comprehensive nature with significant impact on the public life.
He revealed that major transformations have been agreed upon between Bashir and unspecified political forces and the media that will be announced in due course.
" Change is twofold; part of it was associated with changing leadership and various government agencies," the speaker said.
"The change in policy would be surprising in terms of its coverage and comprehensiveness and its impact on the Sudanese street" he added.
Last December Bashir announced cabinet shakeup that saw the departure of several long-time NCP figures from their governmental posts including former vice-president Ali Osman Taha, presidential assistant and NCP vice-chairman Nafie Ali Nafie and Oil minister Awad al-Jaz.