August 29, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Islamist figure Hassan al-Turabi appeared uncomfortable with this week’s meeting between Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi saying it has breathed new life into the regime.
The PCP Political Secretary General Kamal Omer, told Sudan Tribune that al-Mahdi, the Prime Minister who was ousted in the 1989 coup led by Bashir, did not learn from his past experiences with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) that always let him down.
Omer asserted that the NCP is seeking to reach out to opposition parties to “break its isolation“ which he said was caused by recent floods and growing economic discontent.
He claimed that the ruling party wants to form a cabinet with participation from opposition parties that will end up being centered around the NCP “without real reforms” adding that he expects the formation of an oversized, status-quo government.
The PCP official said that opposition parties as part of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) are still trying to evaluate the outcome of the meeting.
Remarks by Bashir and Mahdi following the meeting gave no indication of any major breakthrough or agreement.
The NUP chief said he agreed with the Sudanese president that issues of constitution and governance should incorporate all political powers adding that the two parties will hold consultations that are aimed at reaching unspecified agreements.
Neither men addressed speculations that NUP might join the government. Officials in the opposition party have denied any intention of doing that.
Al-Mahdi has insisted in the past that a constitutional conference including all political parties as well as rebel groups is required to reach a solution to Sudan’s mounting crises.
The NCP however, routinely rejected his call saying that any changes should be made through available political mechanisms.
Prior to Mahdi-Bashir meeting, several opposition figures appeared critical of the NUP leader and suggested that he is trying to play on both sides of the aisle.
The representative of the Baath party within the NCF Fathi Nuri al-Abbas said the NUP is flirting with the NCP to use as a card with the opposition and the government.
“We have launched the opposition’s 100-day plan, but the plan failed because of the NUP which launched similar scheme in a unique tune with the ruling power,” he said,
The NUP leader has made sure to distance his party from last year’s demonstrations that broke out in response to the government’s rollout of austerity measures in response to growing economic pressures caused by the secession of the oil-rich South Sudan.
Last June, al-Mahdi said he does not approve of the 100-day plan to oust the regime announced by the NCF even though al-Basha said he took part in formulating the scheme.
Instead, he offered a different initiative to change the regime through collecting a million signatures and organizing sit-ins in public squares and other places.