Sudan's Bashir hints at government shakeup
AFP, Saturday 16 Nov 2013
Bashir says he will make changes in the executive and legislative bodies at the federal and state levels

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir hinted on Saturday at an imminent and wide-ranging government shakeup, after the most serious split in years within his ruling party.

"We will soon make changes in the executive and legislative bodies at the federal and state levels," he told his National Congress Party (NCP) shura council.

More than 30 prominent NCP reformers announced in late October that they would form a new political party, although they have not yet revealed details of their movement led by ex-presidential adviser Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani.

Critics of Bashir's 24-year regime have become increasingly vocal since the government in September slashed fuel price subsidies, leading to the worst urban unrest of Bashir's rule.

Security forces are believed to have killed more than 200 demonstrators, Amnesty International said, but the government has given a toll of less than half that.

Analysts said the spontaneous demonstrations pointed to an urgent need for reform by a regime grappling with wars, internal dissent, economic crisis and international isolation.

Later Saturday, the shura council was expected to decide whether to formally expel Atabani and two other leaders of the breakaway group.

An internal NCP investigation had recommended their ouster, after they issued a late-September memorandum to Bashir saying the government's response to the fuel-price protests betrayed its Islamic foundations.

"Reforms have to come from within party institutions," Bashir told the shura council, although analysts have been sceptical of the NCP's willingness to consider divergent opinions.

The 400-member council meets every six months and is the NCP's second-highest decision-making group, outside the general congress which is to be held next year.