Bashir's statements provoke public anger

Asmaa El Husseini, Monday 20 Dec 2010

Sudanese President's speech on future Islamic constitution and North's Islamic identity draws criticism and some public outrage

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir addresses a rally in the eastern city of Gedaref 19 December 2010. (Reuters)

Recent statements made by Sudanese President Omar Bashir, regarding the reinforcement of Sharia law in the country's north after independence is chosen in the south, led to public anger.

Mohamed Hussein Sharaf, who spoke on behalf of the Movement for Justice and Equality in Cairo, said Bashir's statements were provocative to the diverse ethnic, religious and cultural population of Sudan, reflecting the regime's responsibility for the south's secession, the deteriorating economy, and the prohibitive inflation affecting Sudanese today.

These combined factors were the reason behind last week's waves of popular protests against the high cost of living, which originated in Bashir's own hometown of Shendi.

As for the president's statement regarding the implementation of Islamic law as the sole source for the constitution, an official with MJE said that it was but a desperate attempt to lure the Sudanese people and have them commiserate through religion.

Sedik Al-Turabi, son of Hassan Al-Turabi and a member of the Bashir's Popular Congress Party, noted that president's statement should not have been uttered, adding that the Bashir and the party must provide a somewhat consistent vision in order to stop the crises from spilling into all regions of the country.

"It is not right to portray Sudan as if divided into two ethnicities, one in the north and the other in the south.  What is right is that there are multiple ethnicities in both the south and the north." Turabi said.

Turabi added that the price for failing to apply the 2005 peace agreement will be quite high and the secession of the south is the least of these. "This is a major catastrophe that cannot be resolved in twenty days, unless all the country's wise people unite, after the National Congress failed miserably to do so." He added.

"They kept on turning down calls to resolve it collectively, but mocked them and everyone else." Turabi said.

Others, including Nasr El-Dein Kosheib, head of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Sudan in Cairo, argue Bashir's statements will be the cause of more problems and more conflicts in the north. 

The south's referendum may not be the last challenge, taking into consideration other ethnicities and cultures, he said.

He added that Bashir's speech does not really come as a surprise to him or to the Sudanese people. It reflects, according to him, a scheme assembled by the president and his party, which ultimately led the southerners to seek secession.

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