This week the schedule of the Khartoum opposition is particularly busy and colourful. Tomorrow the opposition alliance, the National Consensus Forces (NCF) plus/minus the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), will hold a rally in the premises of the Northern Sector of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Khartoum to expose what the opposition claims to be an attempt by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to rig the coming gubernatorial and parliamentary elections in Southern Kordofan. The event, inconsequential as it is, has been described in the media outlet of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the Sudan Media Centre (SMC), as the zero hour of a sabotage plot orchestrated by an unholy alliance comprising Yasir Arman’s Northern Sector, the Communist Party, and Turabi’s Popular Congress Party (PCP). The security forces therefore will probably outnumber the sympathetic attendants. The NCF further announced the organisation of popular demonstrations in two squares in Omdurman and Khartoum on the occasion of the International Women’s Day and in solidarity with the popular uprisings in the region on 8 and 9 March respectively, an initiative that the NCP’s political secretary in Khartoum mocked with the verdict that “the opposition had failed repetitively in mobilising the streets against the NCP”. The alternative ‘Youth for Change’ platform, also declared 8 March the date of a new wave of anti-NCP demonstrations in the style of the 30 January experiment.
Although the believer might be vexed into reading in these multiple announcements a concerted efforts by Khartoum’s activists to face up to the NCP I fear that the opposition is for the time being tackling itself. Within the NCF the two major parties, the Umma Party and the DUP, are actively engaged in appeasement talks with the NCP, the first even with the claim of a mandate from the NCF, and the second humbly on its own account. In that sense, the demonstrations, supposing they do materialise, constitute at a certain level an attempt by the opposition professionals, the Communist Party and the PCP, to embarrass at least the Umma Party back in line. In their own ranks the two parties face the challenge of the younger zealots who are drifting persistently to autonomous forms like the ‘Youth for Change’ platform in frustration over the impotence of the established parties. Beyond appearances, the announced demonstrations could be interpreted as an attempt by the political elite proper to accommodate the agitation of the younger membership.
Knowing the demography of opposition activists in Khartoum I guess the circles of friends will be quite overwhelmed by this week’s obligations.