Bashir's NCP condemns Sudan 'illegal govt' move to scrap party

by Paul Maroudis and Jay Deshmukh
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Thousands of Sudanese rallied late last month in several cities, urging the new authorities to dissolve the former ruling party

Ousted president Omar al-Bashir's party on Friday condemned Sudan's new "illegal government" for ordering its closure and the dismantling of his regime that ruled the country for 30 years.

Sudan's new authorities Thursday approved a law ordering the Islamist leader's National Congress Party to be dissolved, its assets confiscated and the regime dismantled as demanded by the protest movement that led to Bashir's fall in April.

On Friday, the NCP accused the authorities of trying to confiscate its properties and assets to tackle Sudan's economic crisis, which it said the new government had failed to address.

"To rely on the assets of the party, if there are any, is nothing more than a moral scandal, an act of intellectual bankruptcy and a total failure on the part of the illegal government," the NCP said on its Facebook page.

"The party is not bothered by any law or decision issued against it as the NCP is a strong party and its ideas will prevail."

The authorities have also slapped a ban on any "symbols" of the former regime from taking part in political activities for 10 years.

The new ruling sovereign council and cabinet led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok passed the decisions under a law named "Dismantling of the regime of 30th June, 1989".

"The National Congress Party is dissolved and its registration is cancelled from the list of political parties in Sudan," the decree said, adding that a committee would be formed to confiscate all its assets.

- 'Not revenge' -

Bashir seized power on June 30, 1989 in an Islamist-backed coup that toppled the elected government of prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.

Hamdok said the law to dissolve the party and dismantle the regime was "not revenge" against the former rulers.

"But it aims to preserve the dignity of Sudanese people which was crushed by dishonest people," he wrote on Twitter.

"This law aims to recover the plundered wealth of the people."

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that initially led protests against Bashir, welcomed the decision.

"It is a major step towards achieving the goal of the revolution and on the path of building a democratic civilian state," it said in a statement.

But hardline Islamist cleric Mohamed Ali Jazuli warned that the law had potential to trigger future conflicts in Sudan.

"This law is part of a regional project aimed at excluding Islam from all aspects of the state ... this would drag the country into a civil war," Jazuli said in his sermon as he led the weekly Muslim prayers at a mosque in the capital.

He later told AFP that the decision to adopt the law was "unjust, arbitrary and authoritarian".

On Thursday, the sovereign council and the cabinet also formally scrapped a controversial public order law that had severely curtailed women's rights under Bashir.

Thousands of women were flogged, fined and even jailed under the archaic law that activists said primarily targeted women through harsh interpretations of Islamic sharia law.

- 'Big step for women's rights' -

Activists said security forces used the law to arrest women for attending private parties or wearing trousers.

"I pay tribute to the women and youth of my country who have endured the atrocities that resulted from the implementation of this law," Hamdok wrote on Twitter earlier on Friday.

"This law is notorious for being used as a tool of exploitation, humiliation & violation of rights."

Rights group Amnesty International's Seif Magango said the scrapping of the public order law was "a big step forward for women's rights in Sudan".

"The transitional government must now ensure that the entire oppressive public order regime is abolished," he said in a statement.

The controversial public order law had led to simmering anger for decades among women, who were at the forefront of street protests that erupted in December 2018.

The demonstrations quickly turned into a nationwide anti-regime movement that finally led to Bashir's ouster by the army on April 11.

In August, a joint civilian-military sovereign council was formed to oversee a transition to civilian rule as demanded by protesters.

A civilian-led cabinet headed by Hamdok is charged with the day-to-day running of the country.

Bashir is being held in a Khartoum prison facing trial on graft charges. Several other officials of his government and senior NCP members are also in jail.

Thousands of Sudanese rallied late last month in several cities, urging the new authorities to dissolve the former ruling party

Sudanese hardline Islamist cleric Mohamed Ali Jazuli has warned that a law outlawing the former ruling party has the potential to trigger conflicts in Sudan