Khartoum — Several figures within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) including former presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani and MP Aisha Al-Ghabashawi, who signed a memo last week calling for cancelling recent cuts in subsidies and halting the bloody crackdown on protesters, refused to appear before the commission of inquiry formed by the party.
The economic measures triggered some of the worst protests Sudan has seen in years with death toll surpassing 200 according to Amnesty International.
The memo, which was sent to president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and initially signed by 31 NCP members, criticized the government decision to remove subsidies on fuel and some other basic commodities saying it "harshly" impacted the Sudanese citizens. The signatories included many lawmakers who further said the parliament had not been consulted over these economic measures, which were opposed by sections of the NCP.
"Alternatives [to lifting subsidies] were proposed by individuals, experts and political forces but the substitutes were given no consideration and the government insisted on implementing the measures as they are indifferent to their impact and the extent of citizens' ability to endure them," said the memo.
The head of NCP organizational sector, Hamid Sideeg announced on Friday that his party has formed a committee chaired by National Assembly speaker Ibrahim Al-Tahir to query those whose names appeared in the petition that was circulated publicly.
Reliable sources told Sudan Tribune that Ghazi , Ghabashawi, and several signatories refused to appear before the party's commission of inquiry, pointing that the commission has no legal basis.
The same sources asserted that the group known for their reformist agenda would step up its rhetoric against the party's dominant group if it continued to implement wrong policies which harms the whole Islamic Movement (IM) that is considered the ideological arm of the NCP.
Sources close to al-Attabani denied rumors that he has been detained or put under house arrest and said that he is moving freely, stressing that he made a social visit to Naima area in the White Nile state on Friday and then returned to his home in Khartoum north.
Disputes within the NCP escalated against the background of the divergent positions on the public protests which have lasted for two weeks.
One senior source told Sudan Tribune that the NCP's leadership office meeting last Thursday saw a sharp confrontation between president Bashir and three of the memo signatories who attended the meeting.
The source said that al-Attabani and Ghabashawi laid down the reformists' vision and criticized the government's economic measures and response to the protests, calling for reversing recent cuts in subsidies and approving freedom of political action.
Al-Attabani responded to Bashir's assertion that the government is intending to approve a new constitution which allows political pluralism and said that the problem is that the NCP has little appetite to play by the rules.
He added that the past experience clearly showed that the NCP did not respect the constitution which was drafted and approved by its own institutions, saying that if the government had respected the constitution it could have prevented the war in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
The ex-head of the NCP parliamentary caucus further stressed that government institutions should abide by the law and the constitution and fight corruption.
One of the memo signatories by the name of Fadl Ahmed Abdullah told UAE-based Sky News Arabia that they reject Bashir's directive to probe them and described al-Tahir as "part of the problem" who is not qualified to share the committee.
In the same context, the spokesperson for the NCP reformists, Abdel-Ghani Ahmed Idris, told Sudan Tribune from his residence in London that the party is no longer governed by rules and regulations but the "gun", adding that party's institutions aren't functioning but only implementing decisions of the dominant group.
He added that it became clear that the NCP is "irreformable", hinting to a possible split from it.
The first split within the NCP took place in 1999 following bitter power struggle between president Bashir and the Islamist leader Hassan Al-Turabi. The latter was ousted from his post as parliament speaker.
Al-Turabi afterwards established the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and has since been a vociferous critic of the very regime whose army-backed seizure of power in 1989 he orchestrated.