Category Archives: East Africa

Sudan-South Sudan – Bashir fails to attend IGAD meeting

Sudan Tribune

October 23, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese authorities said on Thursday that a leadership meeting of Sudan’s ruling party (NCP) rendered president Omer Hassan al-Bashir incapable of attending Wednesday’s Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting in Juba.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (L), Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn (C) and South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (R) at the third Tanana Forum on Security in Africa held in Ethiopia’s Bahr Dar town on 27 April 2014 (SUNA)

“President Bashir was briefed by the chief mediator about the summit. He did not come because he had other commitments,” Ateny Wek Ateny, the presidency spokesperson said.

He however said the Sudanese leader had assured the mediators of his presence at the next summit on a date yet to be agreed upon.

“He [Bashir] told them [mediation team] to pick the date and let him know. He told them that he would in the next summit,” said Ateny.

Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn and his Ugandan counterpart, Ruhankana Rugunda attended the one-day IGAD consultative summit held in Juba.

During the meeting, South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, said he would remove obstacles blocking progress in peace talks with the country’s rebel faction under the leadership of former vice-president Riek Machar.

“I said it in Arusha, Tanzania, that if the other people were committed and demonstrated [a] willingness to resolve this crisis, like we have done as the government, the people who are now in the [internally] displaced camps, would have returned to their homes and they would not have missed planting season. They would have cultivated,” Kiir told regional leaders at the meeting.

He said the government delegation had full powers to negotiate and resolve the current crisis.

South Sudan has been mired in conflict since mid-December last year after a political dispute in the ruling SPLM turned violent. The IGAD-led peace talks have so far failed to halt the violence amid repeated delays and disagreements over key issues.

(ST)

Uganda-Central Africa – the problems in the hunt for Knoy and the lRA

Martin Plaut

Africa’s forgotten scourge: Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army

In the past year, Joseph Kony is said to have been responsible for killing 76 civilians and abducting 467. Despite the lack of international coverage, an African operation to kill or capture him continues. Martin Plaut talks to its leader, Brigadier General Sam Kavuma.

Joseph Kony, photographed in Southern Sudan in 2006. Photo: Stuart Price/AFP/Getty
Joseph Kony, photographed in Southern Sudan in 2006. Photo: Stuart Price/AFP/Getty

Once they were at the top of the African crisis agenda, but ebola, civil war in South Sudan and the atrocities of Boko Haram have driven them out of the headlines. It is hard to find a single mention of Joseph Kony or his murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the international media.

Yet they have not gone away. The charity Invisible Children, which tenaciously tracks the LRA says that it killed two people in the last month and abducted 26 more. In the past year Kony is said to have been responsible for killing 76 civilians and abducting 467. Behind these cold statistics is a trail of shattered lives: of villages living in terror and women too frightened to go to the fields to plant or harvest.

Kony, and his killers, are now hunted across a vast area of Central Africa. “There are probably no more than 100 fighters with Kony,” says Brigadier General Sam Kavuma, who is leading the African operation to kill or capture him. But the general is under no illusion about the scale of the problem. The LRA is dispersed over South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. It is an area approximately the size of western Europe and General Kavuma has only around 1,500 troops at his disposal.

Despite this, the general is optimistic. “Kony is no longer fighting – he’s hiding and trying to survive,” he told the New Statesman in a phone interview.

The General’s Regional Task Force should be far larger. The African Union mandate provides for a brigade-size operation of 5,000 troops, drawn from Uganda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo (pdf).

But the civil war in the Central African Republic has meant it has provided General Kavuma with not a single soldier, while the fighting that erupted in South Sudan last December has also reduced its support. One of Uganda’s three battalions was also withdrawn to prop up South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, in his dispute with his rival, Riek Machar (pdf).

Joseph Kony – once a Ugandan church choir boy – has been the scourge of central Africa for more than two decades. Drawn from the Acholi people of northern Uganda, the LRA has used abduction and murder to further its ends and maintain its operations. Kony himself is notoriously canny and wary – characteristics that have allowed him to survive all these years despite the international efforts to kill him.

President Obama established the elimination of Kony as one of his African goals and recently increased the support given to this operation. Several CV-22 Osprey long range, high speed helicopters, plus 150 Air Force Special Operations troops and airmen joined the search.

In the end, though, the problem of the LRA is likely to require a political solution. “We know that 80 per cent of LRA fighters have been abducted themselves,” says General Kavuma. Talks have been tried in the past, but are ruled out for the present. Kony has used previous negotiations and ceasefires to regroup and re-arm his forces. “The Acholi leaders have sent messages to their people to defect and come home,” the general says and this is paying dividends. “Two months ago we had over fifty defectors, including women and children.”

This strategy has American backing from the 7th Military Information Support Battalion. Radio stations have been established to broadcast appeals to the fighters; half a million leaflets have been dropped from the air. Even aerial loudspeakers have been deployed to try to persuade LRA fighters to lay down their weapons and come out of the bush.

This has been a long and a deadly war. Ugandan troops serve for up to two years before going home. General Kavuma has a good reputation and is said to have transformed the African troops into an effective fighting force. But divisions in South Sudan and the Central African Republic have sapped the operation. The LRA is said to be hiding in Kafia Kingi, one of the areas claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan. Kony may still receive backing from Khartoum, although the General says he has no evidence of this.

The fighting is unlikely to end soon. It is simply too low on the international agenda to receive sufficient resources. As one well-informed observer put it: “The LRA is a forgotten force in a forgotten part of the world.” MP

Mozambique – Renamo’s election strategy and use of violence

ISS

Renamo’s renaissance, and civil war as election strategy

In 2009, the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) recorded its worst ever showing in an election. Its candidate, rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama, was trying so hard to play the respectable politician, yet he received only 650 679 votes (16,41% of the total). This was, astoundingly, over 300 000 votes fewer than he had garnered in the 2004 poll.

At the same time, Renamo won just 51 seats in Parliament, down from 91 seats in the previous session. By anyone’s estimation, it was a catastrophic showing for the party that had effectively invented opposition politics in the country. It had fought to end the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique’s (Frelimo’s) de facto one-party state both during the country’s bloody civil war (which only ended with the 1992 peace agreement), and in the post-civil war democratic elections that followed thereafter.

It seemed as if Dhlakama and his Renamo movement were a spent force. Incoherent and disorganised, and dogged by its dodgy historical links to the apartheid government in South Africa, the party had lost ground not only to the ruling Frelimo but also to the young upstarts of the Movement for Democracy in Mozambique (MDM). The MDM, a breakaway faction of Renamo, had sprung up to claim 8,59% of the electorate.

The very next day, Dhlakama hit the campaign trail

Of course, Renamo cried foul, alleging that the election was rigged and initially refusing to recognise the results. But its leaders must have known that the sheer scale of the drop in support indicated that the real problem lay within its own ranks. If Renamo were to remain relevant – if they were to seriously compete for power in 2014, and for a share of Mozambique’s impending oil and gas boom – then something needed to change.

And so the party returned to doing what it does best: no, not electoral politics, but armed resistance. In 2012, Dhlakama began to resurrect his fighting force, re-establishing a military base in the Gorongosa region and arming Renamo veterans. By October 2013, he was confident enough to rip up the ceasefire that had ended the civil war in 1992. ‘Peace is over in the country,’ said a Renamo spokesperson. These weren’t just words: Renamo launched deadly attacks on targets such as police stations and highways, resulting in dozens of deaths (both military and civilian). The civil war was back, albeit at a far lower intensity.

At the same time, Renamo announced that it would boycott the upcoming municipal elections in November 2013, decrying the politicisation of the electoral system and the blurring of lines between Frelimo and the state (both valid criticisms). It made good on this threat, and its absence allowed the MDM to make significant gains in many of the country’s most important municipalities.

Renamo, it seemed, were weaker than ever before. ‘Dhlakama has backed himself into a corner from which there is no obvious exit,’ wrote veteran Mozambique researcher Joseph Hanlon in late 2013, a conclusion shared by most analysts. But Dhlakama found a way out.

Eventually, Renamo’s intransigence and the threat of even more violence forced the government to the negotiating table – although critics say the government should have acted much sooner to nip the Renamo threat in the bud. Anxious to deal with the situation before the presidential elections, President Armando Guebuza allowed Renamo to extract several key concessions. These included greater representation for Renamo in state institutions, especially the armed forces; reform of the electoral system to make it harder to rig elections in Frelimo’s favour; and a general amnesty for Dhlakama and his supporters.

The new peace deal was concluded on 5 September 2014, with Guebuza and Dhlakama shaking hands in a ceremony in Maputo. The very next day, Dhlakama hit the campaign trail.

At this point, the odds were still stacked against Dhlakama and Renamo. With little over a month before the polls, his opponents had enjoyed a substantial head start on campaigning. And surely Mozambicans would not take kindly to political groups that make their demands at the barrel of a gun: that threaten to plunge the country into civil war if they don’t get their way.

Renamo rallies were chaotic and disorganised, but still people came

In fact, the opposite was true. Everywhere Dhlakama went, he received a hero’s welcome. Unlike Frelimo rallies, where crowds were lured by the promise of free merchandise and celebrity entertainment, Renamo rallies were chaotic and disorganised. But still people came, and waited for hours just to get a glimpse of the man who had somehow turned himself into a beacon of hope for the huge sections of society that feel marginalised by Frelimo’s length rule.

‘Dhlakama has won admiration by apparently forcing Frelimo to make political concessions it has been resisting for decades. He even seems to be enjoying – perhaps unjustly – much of the credit for the peace that has come just in time for the election. Emerging from hiding only after the peace agreement was signed was a clever move that brought his supporters out in droves to welcome him as a hero,’ wrote journalist Cait Reid for African Arguments.

Far from being Renamo’s death knell, its resumption of hostilities was a political masterstroke. It was able to depict itself as the party that was able to take real action to defend its principles, which it argued were for the good of Mozambique as a whole. Dhlakama’s rhetoric on the campaign trail echoed this, and emphasised values such as tolerance and unity, which contrasted sharply with Frelimo’s either-with-us-or-against-us approach.

Oddly enough, by pulling out of the democratic process, Renamo was able to demonstrate its commitment to it; at least as far as its constituency is concerned.

The election results bear this out. Although the final results have yet to be released, provisional results and a parallel count from the Electoral Observatory of Mozambique give Renamo about 32% of the presidential vote – double their proportion from 2009. Regardless of this feat, Renamo are challenging the results and alleging that the vote was tampered with. It is a dramatic return to form, and positions Renamo once again as the most serious challenger to Frelimo’s electoral stranglehold. As unlikely as it may seem, Renamo’s return to the bush had proved to be a most effective campaign strategy.

It is also useful when it comes to negotiating the terms of Renamo’s future democratic engagement. On Sunday, Dhlakama declared the election a ‘charade.’ He warned that while he was committed to peacefully negotiating his differences with Frelimo, he couldn’t necessarily control his angry supporters – thus leaving the threat of violence hanging in the air as he voiced his demand for a government of national unity along Kenyan or Zimbabwean lines. Given Renamo’s history, and the new evidence of the strength of its support base, Renamo remains a threat that Frelimo can’t afford to ignore.

Simon Allison, ISS Consultant

Sufi leader tries to unify Sudanese opposition leaders

Sudan Tribune

October 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the Sudanese Araki-Qadiri sufi sect, Abdalla Ahmed al-Rayah, has launched a new initiative aimed at unifying opposition forces.

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NCF chairman Farouk Abu Issa (L) pictured with NUP leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi (C) and PCP leader Hassan Al-Turabi (Photo: Reuters)

He invited opposition leaders to meet on Monday in his headquarters in Tayba area west of the Gazira state capital of Wad Medani.

Born in 1946, al-Rayah is considered the spiritual leader of the National Unionist Party (NUnP) founded by Sudan’s former president, Ismail al-Azhari. He is known for his solid opposition stances against military regimes.

The chairman of the NUnP, Youssef Mohamed Zain, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that the invitation has been extended to all opposition leaders, saying some of them apologies for not being able to attend the meeting due to a prior commitments but vowed to send delegates to represent them in the meeting.

In October 2009, opposition leaders including the National Umma Party (NUP) leader, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, Popular Congress Party (PCP) leader, Hassan al-Turabi, besides leading figures from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement attended a similar meeting in Tayba under the auspices of al-Rayah.

Zain said the invitation was extended to all opposition forces including the PCP, NUP, Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), all Arab Ba’athist and Naserite parties, various unionists’ factions besides the civil society groups.

He said the meetings aims to unify opposition forces following the recent divisions, noting the meeting will issue a call for unifying opposition forces according to a common minimum program.

Zain acknowledged failure of the opposition forces to deal with their differences, saying it was improper that opposition leaders criticise each other in the media.

He underscored the call which will be issued at the end of the meeting will focus on the need for mutual respect and joint work to achieve a state that is founded on citizenship and developing a strategy to remove the totalitarian rule.

On Saturday, al-Mahdi and the leader of the opposition umbrella National Consensus Forces (NCF), Farouk Abu Issa, met in the Egyptian capital, Cairo to discuss ways for unifying opposition forces.

They stressed in a joint statement on the need to expedite the unification process of opposition forces for “the liquidation of one-party regime, the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace and full democratic transformation” in Sudan.

The rare meeting was a serious move to contain differences between the NUP and the NCF following suspension of the former’s membership in the opposition alliance and recent accusations made by Abu Issa that the NUP seeks to establish a new opposition alliance.

Observers say the political opposition forces are damned to work together and to reunite their ranks despite repression and lack of means if they want to achieve true change in Sudan.

The rule of the successive military regime and the lack of democracy in the country largely contributed to these divisions and rifts as they are isolated from their supporters and deprived of money.

Zain further lashed at the government policies and the slow pace of the national dialogue, pointing to recent fierce arrest campaign carried out by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) against opposition leaders.

The NUnP chairman also pointed the government and the NCP are preoccupied with selection of president Omer Hassan al-Bashir as candidate for the 2015 election and ignoring the deep economic crisis.

(ST)

Mozambique elections: outcome will have little impact on growing social fault-lines

African Arguments

By Jason Sumich

MozElections3

On the 15th of October, 2014, Mozambique held its fifth multiparty general election. Despite Renamo’s almost ritualistic accusation of fraud (not that fraud did not happen, but it would probably not change the outcome of the election) Frelimo once again appears to be heading towards a comfortable win, if not as overwhelming as the previous victory. This election has been seen as especially significant due to the growing challenge of the opposition MDM, Renamo’s ability to fight back (quite literally) from the political irrelevance that seemed to be its fate after its disastrous performance in the last election and the generational shift inside the ruling Frelimo party.

Armando Guebuza, the former president, is obeying the two-term limit and stepping down despite winning around 75% of the vote in the 2009 elections. He will remain head of the Frelimo party, a position with tremendous power and influence. His successor, Felipe Nyusi will be the first Mozambican president who did not take part in the liberation struggle.

Nyusi is a close ally of Armando Guebuza and his capacity to act independently of his patron is subject to much conjecture. While the relationship between Mr Nyusi and Mr Guebuza and questions over how the growing strength of the opposition dominate much of the discussion about Mozambique, major political transformations that have been occurring over the past few decades have attracted less attention.

While Guebuza may retain significant power behind the scenes, his presidency has been marked by turbulence. It is true that under his stewardship the economy is booming. Economic growth rates have been high since the 1990s and the recent mineral and natural resource driven economic boom is consolidating this trend. Mozambique boasted a 7% economic growth in 2013 and, according to the AfDB’s most recent statistics, is expected to grow to 8.5% this year.

The official rates for urban poverty, which stood at 53.6% in 2002/3, have dropped to 36.2% in 2008/9 and this has been coupled with improvements in social services in the capital. Additionally, Guebuza is widely credited with revitalizing party structures that had begun to stagnate under his predecessor Joaquim Chissano (1986-2005). In perhaps his most notable achievement, Guebuza more tightly bound rural power holders to Frelimo by providing an annual subsidy of seven million Meticais to each district, giving them a stake in Frelimo’s continued hold on power.

The Guebuza era is also notable for an ongoing transformation in the way Mozambique is governed; the steady personalization of power. This process began in the preceding Chissano era, with the adoption of a market economy. State assets were privatized and Frelimo grandees, disproportionately the winners of the privatization, began to become serious economic players in their own right. However, as a university professor explained to me: “There is growing discontent, Guebuza is eating (taking) everything, trying to centralize and control everything. Unlike Chissano who let people do what they wanted to, he (Chissano) obviously had his own interests, but he let others have theirs”. Even a Renamo cadre told me that “I respected Chissano, he tried to spread the wealth around instead of just taking it all, like now”.

The families of party grandees are becoming almost feudal in their power and ability to pass it on to their children, and factional and regional struggles gain in intensity (natural gas tends to be based in the north and Frelimo has long been accused of being a southern dominated party). The centralization of power gives a leader and their close associates tremendous power as everything has to go through them. The rewards of power in such a situation are obvious, but they may prove fleeting.

During Guebuza’s tenure as president his economic influence and that of closely aligned business leaders was considerable to say the least. Now that he has stepped down though, it is likely his influence will wane in comparison with a new configuration of party grandees and their associates, thus semi-permanent insecurity is present at even the highest levels of power.

The centralization of power and growing insecurity of the elite has been mirrored by spiralling inequality for the wider society. This can be seen most concretely in a series of bloody riots. The first broke out in Maputo on the 5th of February 2008. The specific causes were blamed on the rising price of transport, forcing many urbanites to spend half or more of their salaries just to get to work. Price hikes in transport and fuel also meant that the cost of food, much of which is imported, soared. As one newspaper editorial put it: “the inhabitants of the bairros (neighbourhoods, or poor suburbs) do not live, they survive”.

While these factors, combined with rising crime, gross inequality, growing urban poverty, an unpopular president and internal factionalism within Frelimo, were well-known, the violence seemed to catch everybody by surprise. Initially mobs attacked chapas, the mini-van taxis that are a ubiquitous feature of urban life, overturning and burning them. Wider frustrations soon came to the fore and rioters targeted luxury cars, the symbol of the new rich, and burned down a school named after the current president, Armando Guebuza.

One rumour that endlessly circulated claimed that rioters attacked a convoy of luxury cars, but when they found that the convoy contained the former president, Joaquim Chissano, they started cheering and demanded that he retake power. The riot spread and continued for two days and paralyzed the city. It was only quelled when the government deployed contingents of police who had permission to shoot on sight, and made a panicked agreement to subsidise the cost of transport. However, this did not stop riots from breaking out again in 2010 and 2012.

Inequality and growing social polarization are becoming major issues in Maputo. As a public transport worker explained to me: “Inequality is getting out of control. The rich keep getting richer but everyone else get(s) nothing. I have no faith with the government, I am sick of them, they only exist for themselves and they do not give anything to the people. When I see Guebuza’s face on the news, I just change the channel.”

Inequality has been accompanied by a plague of violent crime. The well-off and their families face a series of high profile kidnappings that the police are unable or unwilling to combat (in fact the police have been implicated in a number of kidnappings). Mozambique is becoming another expression of the paradox so often seen in Africa, political immobility coupled with radical uncertainty.

In March of 2013 I was speaking to ‘Tiago’[1]at a popular restaurant in downtown Maputo. Tiago is university educated and has a good job at a government ministry. I asked him who he would vote for and he told me the MDM. I was surprised as he is a member of Frelimo, but he explained: “Yes I am a member of Frelimo, but the situation is terrible; things cannot keep going like this, we just really need a change.”

Frelimo dominates the machinery of state and will most likely continue in power for the foreseeable future. Even if the party lost power, it is not clear what, if anything, the opposition would do differently. While Frelimo is able to tighten its grip on the levers of the state and fend off those who would contest the party, the system is hollowing itself out and even the privileged are growing increasingly alienated. While the current focus in Mozambique will be on how the most recent electoral process was handled, how the outcome will effect on the practice of power or the growing fault lines in Mozambican society is uncertain.

Jason Sumich is a social anthropologist who has conducted research in Mozambique since 2002. He received his PhD, which examined nationalism, elite formation and democratization in Mozambique, from the London School of Economics and has taught at Universities in the United Kingdom, Norway and South Africa. He has published in numerous academic journals including Development and Change, Journal of Southern African Studies, Social Analysis and Ethnos.

Chinese peacekeeping trops due in South Sudan in 2015

Reuters

(Reuters) – Some 700 Chinese peacekeepers are expected to join a United Nations mission in South Sudan at the start of next year, the head of the U.N. operation said on Wednesday, though she appealed for Beijing to deploy the battalion “sooner rather than later.”

China announced last month that it would send the troops to help protect civilians amid renewed violence. U.N. officials say this would be the first time China has contributed an infantry battalion to a U.N. peacekeeping mission. Last year China sent a smaller “protection unit” to join the U.N. mission in Mali.

Ellen Margrethe Loj, U.N. special envoy to South Sudan and head of the world body’s peacekeeping mission, said there were currently 10,488 troops on the ground. The operation has a mandated strength of 12,500 peacekeepers.

“The Chinese battalion is not there yet, but we have a Chinese engineering company and we have a Chinese level 2 hospital,” she told a small group of reporters at the United Nations in New York.

“The latest I heard is that it would not be until the beginning of the year but we are trying to appeal to all the troop contributing countries, including China, but also Ethiopia and Rwanda and others, to deliver the troops and the equipment they have promised sooner rather than later,” she said.

Fighting erupted in December in South Sudan, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011, after months of political tension between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy and political rival, Riek Machar. The conflict has reopened deep tensions among ethnic groups, pitting Kiir’s Dinka against Machar’s Nuer.

Loj, who took up her role six weeks ago, briefed the United Nations Security Council earlier on Wednesday and said she was “shocked by the complete disregard for human life.”

The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, caused over 1 million to flee and driven the country of 11 million closer to famine. By year-end, a third of the people could face the threat of starvation, the United Nations said.

Peace talks brokered by African regional bloc IGAD have yet to reach a deal. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has warned Kiir and Machar that if a peace deal cannot be reached during current talks then long-threatened sanctions were likely to be imposed by the U.N. Security Council.

Sudan – Bashir selected by Shura as NPC candidate for presidency again

Sudan Tribune

October 21, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) Shura Council has selected president, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, as party candidate for the 2015 election.

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Sudan’s President Omer Hassan al-Bashir looks on during an interview with state television in Khartoum late February 3, 2012 (Reuters)

The incumbent president won 265 votes out of 495 which represent 73% of the total percentage. His official nomination will be approved at the NCP General Convention.

The NCP Leadership Council on Monday besides Bashir selected four other leading members and referred them to the Shura Council to pick one of them as the party’s nominee for 2015 presidential election.

The 70-year old president previously said he would not seek a new mandate saying the country needs “fresh bold”. The appointment of a military, Bakri Hassan Saleh, as first vice-president was also perceived as a step towards his departure.

During the past weeks, Bashir received different delegations from the NCP dignitaries requesting him to accept their nomination for the presidential race.

The other four nominees chosen by the Leadership Council and submitted to the Shura Council included the first vice-president Bakri Hassan Saleh, former presidential aide Nafie Ali Nafie, former first vice-president Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour.

Meanwhile, the former presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that he does not seek to run for the presidency despite being selected among the NCP’s five possible candidates.

“The party members will not select me [as presidential candidate] and I do not want it and it is better for them not to select me”, he said.

The NCP leading figure, Amin Hassan Omer, said in press statements that Bashir and his deputy Salih are not serving army officers, pointing they had retired and became members of the NCP.

The head of the NCP organisational sector, Hamid Siddiq, for his part, scoffed at reports that Bashir will easily won the upcoming election because he wouldn’t run against strong competitors, saying what is wrong if Bashir wins by consensus.

He downplayed voices saying that Sudan needs a president who could break the barrier of the the international isolation and build strong relation with the United States, saying the NCP needs someone who is close to Allah [God] not the US.

Siddiq pointed the NCP leaders were unwilling to accept party nomination for presidency, saying that 7 members withdrew their nomination and the technical committee conducted the nomination process twice for lack of a quorum.

NCP MISTAKES

Bashir, who addressed the Shura Council meeting on Tuesday, acknowledged that the NCP committed several mistakes and violations, announcing intention to form a committee to look into these violations in order to overcome the flaws.

He directed the NCP members to implement the recommendations of the Shura conferences, pointing to the political mobility his party made ahead of the General Convention.

The NCP chairman said his address in the opening session of the General Convention on Thursday will tackle NCP achievements during the past five years, pointing he will also deal with the failures.

(ST)