Khartoum — The newly elected Secretary-General of the state-linked Islamic Movement (IM) in Sudan, Al-Zubair Ahmad al-Hassan, has raised the possibility of rapprochement between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and its rival, the Islamist opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Al-Turabi.
In a talk show broadcast by the semi-official Blue Nile TV on Monday, Al-Hassan declared that he is willing to meet Al-Turabi and seek out ways to reconcile and unite the two Islamist parties.
Al-Turabi was ousted from the NCP in 1999 following a bitter power struggle with President Al-Bashir and went with his supporters to form the PCP and join forces of opposition to the regime he masterminded its rise to power in a military coup in 1989.
Following the schism, the NCP established the IM to exist as a parallel and broader political base to support the Islamist orientation of the regime and rally Sufi and radical Islamist groups under its umbrella, while excluding the PCP.
In the interview, Al-Hassan said that reconciliation between the bitter rivals require both to make a lot of concessions. He added that while the two parties share the same ideology, the biggest obstacle to their reunion are differences in political practice and personal bitterness between their leaders, in reference to the animosity between Al-Turabi and Al-Bashir.
Al-Hassan however said that even if the two parties don't get back together, their existence as separate parties could still be in the best interest of Islamism in the country if the PCP comes to rule next.
The interview comes one day after Al-Hassan was elected uncontested to be the new secretary-general the IM following its 8th General Conference on 16 and 17 November.
The PCP rejected an invitation to participate in the conference and Al-Turabi later issued a letter telling foreign Islamist participants that the event was nothing more than a charade designed by the NCP to exclude his party and monopolize Islamism. He also accused fellow Islamists who sided with Al-Bashir of ingratiating themselves with the military for personal gains.
Commenting on his election to the position of the IM's secretary-general, Al-Hassan said he did not desire the post but "the Brothers" imposed it on him.
Al-Hassan was elected after the most favorable candidate, Ghazi Salah Al-Din Al-Atabani, decided not to run citing dissatisfaction with constitutional amendments introduced during the conference. Al-Atabani said that these amendments rendered the position useless and the IM in total conflation with the government.
Among the amendments introduced is the establishment of an IM's Supreme Council to be chaired by President Al-Bashir and his deputies.
But Al-Hassan dismissed Al-Atabani's claim as lacking in logic "unless the candidate wants to be given the jurisdictions of the president of the republic"
Al-Hassan said that the attention attracted by the IM's General Conference stems from the general feeling that the country is headed for a change especially that Al-Bashir announced he does not intend to run for another term in office.