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Western diplomats hold talks with Sudanese Islamic opposition

May 7 - 2017 KHARTOUM
Dr Ghazi Salaheldin Atabani, the head of the Reform Now Movement (file photo)
Dr Ghazi Salaheldin Atabani, the head of the Reform Now Movement (file photo)

On Thursday, Western diplomats held talks with the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and the Reform Now Movement (RNM) in Khartoum on the national dialogue outcomes and the peace negotiations.

The British and German ambassadors, the Canadian Chargé d'affaires, and a US Political and Economic Bureau advisor met with PCP officials at the home of the party’s secretary-general Ali El Haj.

In a statement on Friday, the PCP said that the meeting dealt with the national dialogue and its outputs, constitutional amendments, and the wars, peace, and development.

Separately, the British ambassador and the US advisor discussed the same topics with members of the RNM, led by Ghazi Salaheldin Atabani.

Islamic parties

The RNM was formed by dissidents of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in December 2013, after Atabani and two other high-profile NCP members were ousted in November. They were among more than 30 prominent NCP reformers who issued a memorandum to President Al Bashir saying the government's most violent response to September fuel price demonstrations betrayed its Islamic foundations.

The RNM joined the National Dialogue, initiated by President Al Bashir in January 2014, but quit in June that year over the increased curbing of civil freedoms in the country. Atabani however, did sign the recommendations of the National Dialogue outcomes gathered in the National Document in October last year.

The PCP was founded in 2001 by Dr Hassan El Turabi, who masterminded Al Bashir’s 1989 military coup. In 1999, a year after he was elected secretary-general of the National Congress Party (NCP), El Turabi lost a power struggle with Al Bashir, and was set aside. The PCP has remained an -Islamic-oriented- opposition party to date, but the stances seemed to have softened in March 2014, when El Turabi visited Al Bashir at his guest house for their first public meeting in years. El turabi died in

The PCP actively joined the National Dialogue, and announced on Wednesday that it will participate in the New Accord Government that will be launched soon.

The party has been internally divided about participation in the government, and earlier conditioned its participation with constitutional amendments concerning civil freedoms and the powers of the security apparatus. After the party decided to join the new government, PCP Political Secretary Kamal Omar resigned from his post. He said that he could not betray the heritage of his late leader, El Turabi, the ‘Imam of Freedoms’.

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