July 20, 2005

Sudan opposition to push for inclusion in coalition

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Opposition political forces plan
protests and strikes to try to force Sudan's new coalition
government to include a greater number of political voices,
politicians told Reuters on Wednesday.

About 10 Sudanese professional organizations and political
parties, including the Popular National Congress, led by
Islamist Hassan al-Turabi, and the Umma Party have formed an
alliance with other parties to oppose the newly agreed
coalition unity government.

"We want a national government not a bilateral government,"
said Turabi, recently released from detention along with other
political prisoners.

The alliance also includes pan-Arab secular parties like
the Sudanese Baath Party and regional parties such as the Beja
Congress, one of the main opposition parties in the east, where
fighting has broken out between rebels and government soldiers.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and former
southern rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement
(SPLM) agreed on the new government after signing a peace deal
in January to end a 21-year-old civil war in Africa's largest

Oppositions officials said the makeup of the government,
which gives 52 percent of the government to the NCP, 28 percent
to the SPLM and the remainder to other northern and southern
parties, leaves too much power with the ruling elite.

The agreement, signed on July 9, makes SPLM leader John
Garang first vice president of Sudan, but the opposition
parties say they resent not being consulted on the allocation
of power.

Abdur Rahman al-Ghali, deputy secretary-general of the Umma
Party, said the alliance would organize strikes, protests and
launch a media campaign to get its message to the public and to
other countries.

The alliance politicians say they need a broad-based
government before parliamentary and presidential elections are
held in three to four years.

"To provide a basis for free and fair elections, we have to
have a national government where everyone is represented, where
the government that is holding power will refrain from
interference in the election," said Turabi, a former ally of
President Omar al-Bashir.

Ghali said there were efforts underway to persuade the two
main rebel groups fighting the government in the Darfur region
to join the alliance.

The two groups launched a rebellion in early 2003. Among
their complaints, they said the government gave preferential
treatment to Darfur's Arab tribes, who they accused of killing,
burning villages and stealing their livestock.

Bashir's government has accused Turabi of supporting one of
the Darfur rebel groups. Turabi says he was in contact with the
group to help find a political solution to the conflict that
has killed tens of thousands and made about 2 million homeless.