Sudanese Islamist Figure Announces Movement to Opposition Ranks

Khartoum — The leader of the Islamic Wasat Party Yousif al-Koda announced that he is joining an opposition alliance which has its stated goal of overthrowing the Sudanese ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the elimination of what it describes as injustice, poverty and suppression of freedoms.

Al-Koda made the announcement on his Facebook account which prompted the Sudanese authorities to prohibit newspapers from publishing the news.

The Islamist figure accused the government led by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir of repression and confiscation of freedoms in a bid to suppress dissenting voices and those opposed to the NCP.

Qutbi al-Mahdi, a leading NCP figure slammed al-Koda's decision saying that this makes his party a secular one in alliance with the Arab Baath and Communist parties.

But al-Koda responded to these remarks in his Facebook page saying that "the duty of reform and change" is not limited to Islamic movement or Islam as a religion.

"I did not join the opposition to teach them religion or transform them from secularism to Islamic [ideology] and to start with this was not the issue, but the issue is how to rid the country from the grip of people who ruined [the nation] and hurt it in the name of Islam".

He also accused the government of prostituting Islam to extend its stay in power and questioned why the NCP's meetings with the Chinese Communist Party are considered acceptable but not his alliance with opposition.

Al-Koda is considered to be a moderate figure who has been outspoken against Salafist hardline groups.

There has been growing discontent with the NCP-led government from the Islamist base which staged complaints ranging from abandoning Islamic values to corruption and suppression of the freedom of expression.

Last November the Sudanese authorities said it thwarted a coup attempt planned by regime loyalists including former spy chief Salah Gosh and dozens of army and security officers.

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