Judging by press statements confrontation between the NCP and its Northern opposition is set on an escalation course. After a meeting of party leaders on Sunday Farouq Abu Issa, the spokesperson of the National Forces Coalition, an umbrella framework joining the major parties in the North, reiterated the opposition’s demand for the formation of an interim national government following the Southern Sudan referendum. According to Abu Issa the NCP government loses all legitimacy after the expected secession of the South. When asked how the opposition wishes to overthrow the NCP government Dr Miriam al-Mahdi, the assistant to the Secretary General of the Umma Party, responded to al-Jazeera TV with the regular NCP bashing but failed to name a coherent strategy. Sadiq al-Mahdi himself, the Umma Party chief, put forward what he termed ‘civil jihad’, an approbation of the Sudanese left’s trademark ‘general political strike’.
The NCP’s deputy chairman, Nafie Ali Nafie, refused in clear terms any mention of a national government. The NCP’s argument however was detailed in a statement by the vice president, Ali Osman Taha, to al-Jazeera. Opting for a friendlier language, Taha claimed that discussion of a national government was premature. He stated that the current disposition is the result of the April 2010 election which the NCP had entered virtually uncontested. Taha offered the opposition inclusion in the form of commissions and consultation bodies “without disturbance of the democratic equation born out of the elections”. In Taha’s diagnosis “the coming phase in (North) Sudan requires agreement on national policies and directives regarding national governance which may result in mechanisms wider than the issue of the executive and the government”. To those versed in the jargon of the one party state Taha’s argument is a classic.
As much as the departure of the South robs the NCP of its self-proclaimed ‘protector’ legitimacy it crashes a major claim of the opposition, namely the need to address the ‘Southern Question’ though peaceful democratic means, and in post-Naivasha terms, to implement the CPA satisfactorily. For both, secession of the South signals a dramatic change in the rules of the game in Khartoum. Ahead of its opposition the NCP has already set its ideological message clear, namely a re-boot of shari’a and a reinvigoration of the NCP’s Islamic credentials. What that actually translates into is beside the point. The opposition is however yet to discover a post-CPA political platform beyond lamentation. The Northern sector of the SPLM has already picked its game, namely the Nuba Mountains and the Southern Blue Nile as an extension of the ‘Southern Question’ north of the 1956 border. What lack of imagination!