July 1, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The speaker of the Sudanese parliament, al-Fatih Izz al-Din, expelled the head of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) parliamentary bloc, Ismail Hussein, from a session on Tuesday devoted to a draft bill on amendments to the country’s 2008 electoral law.
The national assembly began deliberations on the controversial draft bill during the session, which was boycotted by major opposition parties despite an invitation extended to them by the speaker.
Verbal altercation escalated when the speaker offered the head of the parliamentary sub-committee on Economics and Financial Affairs and secretary-general of the Islamic Movement (IM), al-Zubair Mohamed al-Hassan, the opportunity to speak during the deliberations on the amendments.
The member of PCP bloc, Emad al-Din al-Bushra, objected to the speaker’s move and demanded that he follows the regulations which stipulates that heads of blocs should speak before heads of the parliamentary subcommittees.
“We only recognise the bloc of the National Congress Party (NCP)”, the speaker responded angrily.
Consequently, the head of the PCP bloc challenged the speaker to follow the regulation but the speaker asked him to remain silent before ordering him twice to leave the room.
“You are not a guardian on MPs, this is a farce”, “Expel us or put us in prison, do whatever you want but we won’t be humiliated”, Hussein shouted while leaving the room.
The remaining bloc of PCP MPs withdrew from the session following Ismail’s expulsion.
MP Hussein Sabahi described the speaker’s approach as “harsh” but he was interrupted and asked him to sit down.
“This will be our approach as of today”, the speaker said
Following the session Ismail told reporters that the speaker dealt with him in an autocratic way.
“The regulation defines the parliamentary blocs and the speaker must follow it”, he said.
He added that the speaker doesn’t have the right to annul existence of parliamentary blocs and claim he only recognises the NCP bloc, describing the move as violation of the regulations.
Ismail further said they would consider boycotting the next sessions.
The parliament approved the report of the parliamentary subcommittee on Legislation, Justice and Human Rights about the draft bill in the general features’ stage.
The head of the subcommittee, Tahani Tor al-Dabba, pointed the amendments aims to secure participation of small political parties and other categories in the parliamentary practice, saying the draft bill would focus on expanding participation base and taking responsibility.
Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the Political Parties Affairs Council (PPAC), Mohamed Adam Ismail, underscored that amendments to electoral law were products of discussions and workshops held with the participation of the political forces, saying these amendments serve interests of various political parties and enable them to in the regional and national legislature.
According to the government-sponsored Sudan Media Services (SMC) website, Ismail said participation of political parties in the deliberations on the draft bill would offer a great opportunity for achieving consensus on it and securing commitment following its approval.
“Participation of political parties and civil society organisations in the deliberations on the draft bill would necessarily mean their commitment to it”, he added.
Sudan’s general elections are set to be held in April 2015 but opposition parties threatened to boycott it saying the NCP holds absolute control over power and refuses to make any compromises to end the civil war and allow public liberties.
In a speech before the members of the Shura (consultative) Council of the NCP on Thursday, president Omer Hassan al-Bashir underscored that next year’s elections will be held as scheduled without delay.
Many observers and opposition figures assert that NCP insistence on holding the election as planned will all but kill the national dialogue process called for by Bashir earlier this year.