The spontaneous welcoming demonstration of the decision to dissolve the former ruling party, the National Congress Party (NCP) shows yet again that the party that has been, in effect, under social ban, is no longer able to function legally. It is symbolic to target the party that has been the bedrock for the Ingaz regime for more than two decades. With the demise of the regime itself it is unthinkable to expect NCP to survive.
Yet for all practical purposes crossing out NCP name from the list of parties authorized to operate inside the country will not mean much. The Islamic Movement, which represents the base for NCP has a history of changing its names from time to time to fit whatever political era. It started as a branch for the Muslim Brotherhood, then turned Islamic Charter Front. When it opted to get into reconciliation with the May regime of former President Ja’far Al-Nimeiry, it did not hesitate in enrolling within the Sudanese Socialist Union (SSU), the ruling party then.
Following ousting Al-Nimeiry, the Islamists regrouped under the new name the National Islamic Front. And when that Front staged the Ingaz coup, it was effectively dissolved to pave the way for the NCP.
Yet the NCP, who welcomed other members aside from Islamists has the typical problem of functioning under the government protection, which insulated it from any serious political competition. Gradually NCP started to show irrelevance as a serious party providing the much needed political cover for the government. Former President Omar Al-Bashir, who was also the party’s chairman was frank in telling NCP members at one point that the fate of SSU awaits them.
The real test came during the five months popular turmoil that erupted across the country and NCP failed even to make some tangible presence and support its government in its moment of need.
That was no surprise for a party that fails to infuse new blood in its various organs and it continued to function only because it depends on the government feeding. In fact it did not only fail the regime, but it fails even to appeal to the young generation, born and raised during the three decades of ruling. Moreover, many sons and daughters of NCP leaders were seen taking active role in anti-government demonstrations.
The decision to dissolve NCP will allow for other important measures of targeting the parallel organizations set up by the deposed regime as well as its economic base.
However, it is absolutely important to differentiate between economic components of the NCP and the cabals, who are using their connections and contacts for their own benefit regardless of politics. After all, the last year saw the biggest jump in the black market that dominated the scene and resulting in the scarcity of liquidity. It is those interest groups, who may be Islamists or have connections with them, but what counts in the end is their own personal interests.
And those should be the main worry. Dissolving NCP can help politically, but attending to day to day problems of transportation in the capital, the sky rocket rising dollar etc needs more than hitting on the dead end of the NCP.
Making people feel that there is real change in their daily lives is the challenge facing the transitional government. In fact that is the tip of the iceberg facing the whole political class. At stake is not just a government carrying out a typical routine programme. Rather it is establishing the foundations of a new system that will be able to sustain democratic transformation, development and human rights. And that is not an easy task given the repression political parties have been subjected to during the 30-year of Ingaz rule, but more worrying was inability of these opposition parties and groups now dominating the scene to develop alternative policies and programs.
The main logic to go for a 3-year transitional period is specifically to establish those foundations, make the necessary changes in the socio-economic and political set-up starting with achieving peace that could be crowned by elections.
It was interesting to note that dissolution was restricted only to NCP and not to the Islamic Movement. That is a good signal that aside from those incriminated or indicted, members of that movement can opt for a political role if they want and it is up to the Sudanese people to pass a verdict on them in the ballot box.
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