April 23, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Signs of discord have begun to emerge within the leadership of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in north Sudan as two senior party officials openly contradicted each other over the NCP’s dialogue with opposition parties.
The NCP has been engaged in dialogue with two mainstream opposition parties, the National Umma Party (NUP) of Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) led by Mohamed Osman Al-Mirghani, as tension continues to dominate the domestic political arena amid calls by other opposition factions for political mobilization to topple the regime
A divergence of opinions has emerged this week when Nafi Ali Nafi, the NCP’s Vice-President, and Salah Gosh, the presidential adviser for security affairs, openly criticized and contradicted each other on whether the dialogue with opposition parties was sanctioned by the party’s leadership.
In an interview broadcast by Sudan radio on Friday, Nafi said that the dialogue conducted by Gosh with certain opposition parties “finds no acceptance” within the party because it was not approved by the NCP’s leadership.
Nafi, who is known for being a hard-liner who often makes derogatory remarks against opposition parties, asserted that his party would not negotiate over a transitional or national government to serve as a tool to weaken his party or turn it into a minority group. “If they (opposition parties) want this (a national government) they should wait until next elections,” Nafi said.
But Salah Gosh on Saturday held a press conference in which he openly faulted Nafi’s statement, saying “it is detrimental to the dialogue and will make opposition parties run away from it.”
Gosh stressed that the dialogue was authorized and sponsored by the party’s chairman, president Al-Bashir, and second Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha.
Analysts have long pointed to divisions between the NCP’s wing of hardliners and that of those who favor a conciliatory approach towards the opposition, citing it as a reason for the slow progress the dialogue has made so far.
Meanwhile, Nafi said in the same radio interview that president Al-Bashir is scheduled to meet the NUP’s leader Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi to discuss the pending points in the dialogue between the two parties. Nafi revealed that the disagreements between the two parties lie in the issue of dealing with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which indicted Al-Bashir in connection to Darfur conflict, and the issue of reducing Sudan’s current states to six regions.
Political tension in north Sudan has been exacerbated by worsening economic conditions amid rising inflation and shortage of hard currency due to the secession of South Sudan region in a referendum in January.
Oppositionists and anti-government activists blame Al-Bashir’s government for a long list of failures, including the loss of South Sudan, rising cost of living, the conflict in Darfur and restrictions on public liberties.