Top Muslims Visit Sudan to Reconcile President, Turabi
Leading Arab and Pakistani Muslim delegates arrived in Khartoum in a bid to reconcile Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his jailed Islamist rival Hassan al-Turabi, party officials said Thursday.
The rivalry, which burst into the open in 1999, has torn apart the Islamist movement which has ruled Sudan since it took power in a military coup 10 years earlier.
"We are optimistic that our efforts will put an end to the dispute between the Islamic movement parties," Abdel Majid al-Zindani of Yemen told Al-Sahafi Al-Dawli newspaper after arriving in Khartoum late Wednesday.
The delegation will meet with Bashir, his deputy Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and Turabi, who has been held in a Khartoum prison since his arrest in February, as well as other figures from both sides, newspapers said.
Turabi is the Islamist idealogue who helped Bashir seize power in the 1989 coup, but the two developed a rivalry which came to the forefront in December 1999 when Bashir dissolved parliament and declared a state of emergency.
The move was aimed at ousting Turabi as parliamentary speaker at a time when he was backing legislation to curb presidential powers.
Several months later, Bashir ousted Turabi as head of the ruling National Congress (NC) party, prompting Turabi to form the breakaway Popular National Congress Party (PNC).
Turabi was then arrested in February when PNC officials signed a memorandum of understanding with the separatist Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) to conduct what they said were peaceful protests and strikes against Bashir’s government.
The deal infuriated Khartoum, which has been at war with the SPLA since the 1983.
PNC deputy secretary general Abdallah Hassan Ahmed told AFP that his party welcomes the good offices of the delegation and would listen to it with "an open mind."
He said Zindani was the first to arrive here and that the other delegates -- expected to include Mohamed Omar al-Zubair of Saudi Arabia, Abdel Latif Arabiyat of Jordan, Fathi Yeken of Lebanon and Qadi Hussein of Pakistan -- would arrive here Thursday and Friday.
Their work would begin Saturday, he added.
Ahmed said the PNC was making no conditions before talks started, but it would ask for the release of Turabi and colleagues who were arrested with him.
Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, the secretary general of the NC, also said his party would not make conditions and would explain the government point of view to the delegation – KHARTOUM (AFP)
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