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DATE=12/23/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=SUDAN POWER STRUGGLE, PT. 1 OF 3 NUMBER=5-45112 BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=KHARTOUM CONTENT= VOICED AT: /// EDS: First in a series of three backgrounders on the Sudan emergency, which may be used with the latest CN or regional item from Sudan. Announcers may use the opt leadout to promo the next piece in the series /// INTRO: In Sudan, leaders of the ruling National Congress Party are trying to mediate a dispute between President Omar al-Bashir and the powerful speaker of parliament, Hassan al-Turabi. On December 12, President Bashir dissolved parliament, suspended parts of the constitution and imposed a three-month state of emergency. V-O-A Correspondent Scott Bobb has talked to various political leaders in Sudan and has this report on the power struggle that led to the split in the ruling party. TEXT: /// SOUND OF STREET, CARS, PEOPLE GREETING /// It is evening in Khartoum and people are gathering at a popular downtown restaurant after breaking the Ramadan fast. /// SOUND OF HANDS WASHING, CONVERSATION /// Inside the restaurant - with its white, tiled walls - waiters lay out plates of spicy grilled chicken, while patrons laugh and make small talk. Underneath it all, however, there is uneasiness. The government is in crisis and, although things are calm, there is uncertainty about the future. /// SOUND OF CALL TO PRAYER /// At mosques around Khartoum, worshippers pray for peace and unity after emergency measures brought to a head a growing power struggle at the summit of Sudanese politics. The struggle has pitted respected army commander and president, Omar al-Bashir, against Speaker-of-Parliament Hassan al-Turabi, an influential ideologue who has been working to create an Islamic state in Sudan for more than 35 years. /// BASHIR ACT - IN ARABIC, FADE UNDER /// On the night of December 12th, as Sudanese were breaking their fast, President Bashir appeared on national television and announced he was dissolving parliament, and was imposing emergency measures for three months until elections could be held. The announcement came as a surprise to most, although the confrontation had been brewing for some time. One year ago, ten of Mr. Turabi's top lieutenants published a letter, called the Memo of Ten, in which they accused Mr. Turabi of losing sight of Islamist ideals because of a personal quest for power. One of the authors of the memo, Information Minister Ghazi Salah Eldin, told V-O-A the memo was not viewed as part of a plot against Professor Turabi, but he says it started a process that culminated in the December 12 emergency measures. /// SALAH ELDIN ACT /// The government had to take this step in order to redress the imbalance in its relationship with the parliament, in order to open the way for any constitutional amendments that would incorporate the opposition parties in the future, and to start afresh after national reconciliation is achieved. /// END ACT /// Following the coup ten years ago that brought President Bashir to power and created the Islamist state in Sudan, Mr. Turabi initially held no political office. But as the government consolidated power under an Islamic state, he emerged as the head of the National Congress, the sole ruling party, and later, speaker of parliament. A party congress last September further increased Mr. Turabi's powers. It placed most authority in the post of party secretary-general, which he held, and it made the post of chairman, held by President Bashir, largely ceremonial. The parliament also tried to strip the president of many of his powers. It sought to create the post of prime minister, elected by parliament. And it proposed that state governors be elected directly by the people, instead of being selected from a list of names chosen by the president. Mr. Turabi reacted to the emergency measures by saying they violate the constitution and that he plans to appeal them. In an interview with V-O-A, he accused the military of being anti-democratic and said it is reluctant to go along with anything that would reduce its power. /// TURABI ACT /// The country is being democratized now. Local government is elected. State government is all elected. National government is all elected. I mean, that's new. That's new. They're not used to it actually. /// END ACT /// The opposition has reacted with glee. The leader of the internal wing of the Democratic Unionist Party, Sid Ahmed Hussein, says Mr. Turabi's loss of power has provided an opportunity to involve opposition parties in Sudanese politics once again. /// HUSSEIN ACT /// So, we think that this is the beginning of the end of Turabi, in particular, so we think we should encourage Bashir to do more. Turabi now has no power in his hands and even the fundamentalists now are supporting Bashir. /// END ACT /// The opposition believes that with the ruling party divided, President Bashir now needs their support. /// OPT /// Information Minister Salah Eldin says the government wants to negotiate with the opposition in a national reconciliation conference to amend the constitution and hold elections in three months. /// SALAH ELDIN ACT /// Yes, we are ready to go for that conference anytime in order to resolve those issues. If that's not achieved, then we will pursue our present course which is direct contact with the opposition, in order to incorporate as much as we could of their views in the constitution. /// END ACT /// A political commentator and dean of communications at Khartoum University, Al-Tayeb Ateya, says although the crisis in Sudan appears to be a power struggle between the two leaders, in reality, it is the manifestation of a broader trend. /// ATEYA ACT /// People are making the mistake of looking at this different conflicts and different splintering, which is taking place everywhere as isolated incidents. I see them as a result of global phenomena, which is resultant from this very important transition toward democracy and liberalization. ///END ACT./// /// END OPT /// Political analysts say President Bashir has three options: to reconcile with the opposition in a power- sharing arrangement; to make amends with the Turabi wing of the National Congress; or to govern with the military under emergency measures. They say at the moment, reconciliation with the opposition is the option that enjoys the broadest popular support. They say if the Bashir government can satisfy these aspirations, it stands a good chance of retaining some popular support. If not, they say, Sudan risks entering another period of turmoil characterized by social upheaval and military domination. (SIGNED) /// OPT /// Correspondent Scott Bobb will examine the prospects for reconciliation with the Sudanese opposition and the prospects for peace in southern Sudan in the next (two) parts of his series of reports on the Sudanese emergency. /// END OPT /// NEB/SB/GE/KL 23-Dec-1999 13:20 PM EDT (23-Dec-1999 1820 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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