|Sadiq al-Mahdi in young age|
The Khartoum daily, al-Sahafa, made public portions of what it claimed was the report submitted to the latest Politburo meeting of the Umma Party by its Secretary General, Siddig Mohamed Ismail, regarding the progress of its negotiations with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). According to al-Sahafa, the two sides agreed on five major issues: (1) the enforcement of shari’a on a territorial and not an individual basis; (2) shari’a and custom are the two sources of legislation; (3) citizenship is the basis of rights; (4) the people are the source of authority and elect the president and the legislature; (5) The elected parliament promulgates the legislations.
Differences were harder to overcome regarding a second set of issues including the administrative division of the country, the reform of the civil service, the security agencies, and the army, as well as the Umma’s Party’s position towards the international arrest warrant against President Bashir. While the NCP agreed to the largely abstract notions above it rebuffed the Umma Party’s propositions of restoring the pre-1989 division into six regions, including a one Darfur, and of restructuring the civil service and security agencies along ‘national’ i.e. non-partisan lines.
Without much ado the two sides seemed pleased with approximating their proposals of a broad-based government (NCP) and an interim all parties government (Umma) on the grounds of barring the Communist Party and the Popular Congress Party from a prospective power-sharing equation in the North following the formal secession of the South on 9 July. Speaking to the press on Wednesday the Umma Party’s Secretary General declared that the two sides had achieved a consensus over 85% of the issues at stake, a qualitative measure I suppose in the guise of a figure. He added that the remaining issues will be tackled by the heads of the two parties, President Bashir and Chairman Sadiq al-Mahdi, in a joint meeting the next day. On Thursday al-Mahdi emerged out of the announced meeting with Bashir stating that the dialogue between the two parties will continue until amicable solutions are achieved to all the remaining points of divergence.
Within the NCP al-Intibaha’s al-Tayeb Mustafa rejoiced at the prospect of winning Sadiq al-Mahdi over to a rejuvenated post-secession Bashir regime. Resurrecting the never dead historical fantasy of the Turabist Islamic Movement Mustafa suggested to the ex-Premier a categorical change of lanes from what he termed the secular camp of the Communist Party and the Northern Sector of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) to the holy camp of shari’a rule, an Islamic Consensus instead of the opposition National Consensus. Come such realignment, even Turabi’s PCP would be vexed to switch into appeasement mode at the cost of sacrificing the sheikh once more.