25 November 2012

Sudan's NCP Denies Resignation of Its Parliament's Majority Leader

Khartoum — The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Sunday denied reports that the head of its parliamentary bloc resigned to protest the outcome of the Islamic Movement (IM) convention that took place this month in Khartoum.

The NCP's spokesperson Badr al-Deen Ibrahim said that news of Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani's departure are simply "rumors" and stressed that he is a member in good standing of the party.

Ibrahim accused unspecified parties of propagating the rumor in an attempt to "fish in troubled waters".

Al-Attabani himself said in press statements that he is still with the NCP and reiterated that he has not been summoned or quizzed in connection with the alleged coup attempt uncovered this week by Sudanese authorities.

The former presidential adviser is seen by many as a symbol of the reformist faction within the NCP which is pushing for separating the NCP from the Islamist movement and embracing democratic transformation as well as promoting new faces to leadership positions.

But Al-Attabani has reportedly withdrew his candidacy for Secretary General of the IM and left the meeting due to what he saw as interferences by influential government figures who pushed through amendments he opposed.

But an NCP figure who closely followed the workings of the convention told Sudan Tribune this weekend that Al-Attabani pulled out after finding out that the NCP leadership have determined to choose someone else for that position.

Al-Attabani's name has been also been linked to the 13 Islamist military and security officers arrested on Thursday night and accused of plotting to overthrow the regime. This included former head of National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Salah Gosh and Brigadier General Mohamed Ibrahim Abdel-Galil who is better known as 'Wad Ibrahim'.

Wad Ibrahim in particular enjoys tremendous popularity among Islamists and last year he gathered around 1,000 Islamists at his home including Al-Attabani. He is believed to be the leader of the group widely known as "Al-Sae'ohoon" which formed the core of special forces fighting South Sudan rebels during the civil war since president Omer Hassan al-Bashir came to power in 1998 in a bloodless military coup backed by the National Islamist Front (NIF) .

Al-Sae'ohoon is said to be unhappy about NCP leadership abandoning Islamic values and giving too much concessions to South Sudan which became an independent state last year. They have also urged Bashir to sack his defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein whom they hold responsible for army failures and defeats.

The NCP spokesperson told reporters that anyone calling for change should express their views through proper channels within the party institutions. However he underscored that those calling for reforms should not think that it is "their way or the highway" given differing views.

"There is no problem for the party in hearing [different] views but there may be a problem in that the ones offering opinions want others to succumb to their opinions and points of view" Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim made the statements following NCP politburo meeting held to discuss the alleged coup attempt.

He also expressed concern over growing speculations and false rumors on the plot and those involved adding that only security agencies are responsible for disclosing information on that.

A press conference scheduled by information minister today to offer more details on the plot has been cancelled without explanation.

Many observers and opposition figures in Sudan have appeared skeptical on the government's version of the story given conflicting statements made by officials on whether it was an aborted coup or simply discussions among those accused.

This week NCP's leading figure Qutbi al-Mahdi suggested that Gosh will likely be cleared and released while local newspapers in Khartoum quoting security sources said that he will likely be referred to a military tribunal.

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