Last week the Presidency called for a meeting with opposition parties, largely Northern, to discuss the referendum on the future of Southern Sudan. Individual party leaders initially agreed to attend. However, after internal consultations, representatives of the opposition, speaking as the ‘Juba Alliance’ or formally the National Forces Alliance, snubbed the meeting with the argument that the Presidency’s call is an attempt to undermine the opposition’s proposition of a penultimate ‘national inclusive conference’ addressing all political issues and conflicts. On a second thought the opposition, Yasir Arman’s Northern Sector of the SPLM counted in, tabled the condition of widening the meeting’s agenda to include the Darfur crisis, democratic transformation, price hikes and dire living conditions. Well, an immediate NCP response was to decline inclusion of these issues persisting on the notion that the meeting is to exclusively address the impending referendum. In the press NCP voices attacked the opposition for its unwillingness to rise to the occasion. In the name of the opposition the SPLM’s Yasir Arman, speaking to al-Akhbar newspaper stated that the success of the meeting depends on correct procedure and the involvement of all political forces in its preparation, as well as the issues to be discussed which must include ‘freedoms’ and the referendum. It is noteworthy that the Juba Alliance petitioned the First Vice President, Salva Kiir, to postpone the meeting till adequate preparation.
Now, on a strictly formal note the opposition could be pardoned for insistence on wider agenda that involve its queries over Darfur and the political climate in Khartoum. But on examination the opposition is none but floating its liberal notion of change by consent via a conference of equals where the good of democracy defeats the evil of dictatorship; a dream that is the substitute in fantasy for the (im)possible popular revolt in 1985 and 1964 style. Absorbed in nostalgia to ‘repeat of the same’ the opposition has yet to comprehend and ‘stomach’ the coordinates of the concrete situation so stubbornly defiant to triple repeat of history. The NCP, in contradistinction to Abboud’s junta (1958-1964) and Numayri’s dictatorship (1969-1985), has managed to generate sufficient local constituency to survive if not to replace Sudan’s old elite. And more importantly, the NCP has cushioned itself in sufficient international conditioning and paradoxical (dis)repute, in particular via the CPA, as to make its ousting a risk to ‘international peace and stability’ in UN terms, and in common language a disruption of imperialist designs. Contrary to the aspirations of the liberal opposition it is the NCP regime – Sharia in place – that has won subservience to imperialist powers and compatibility with global capitalism. Pardon my language, but a flash look at NCP economic policy ever committed to neoliberal dogma and hungry for FDIs may prove to be enlightening. I fear that the opposition has no other plan in its baggage but political abstinence, an infantile symptom whatever way you interpret it.