Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir plans to appoint a replacement for his rival Hassan al-Turabi as the ruling party's secretary general before October, a newspaper quoted him as saying Monday.
The independent Al Ayam daily quoted Beshir as saying a new National Congress party secretary general and new secretaries for the federal states will be appointed before the presidential and legislative elections.
Beshir's order to freeze Turabi's and his deputies' activities will remain in effect until then, he was quoted as saying.
Turabi, the Islamist ideologue who helped Beshir seize power in a 1989 coup, has vowed to cling to power but it is not clear how he can challenge Beshir with his grip on the military and security forces.
Complaining that Turabi continued to defy his authority, Beshir announced Saturday he had suspended Turabi from his last political post, five months after ousting him as parliamentary speaker and declaring a state of emergency.
Beshir said the recent suspension of the NC secretariat "does not imply any change in the government's policies with regard to freedom, peace and reconciliation" with the opposition.
Referring to efforts to end a 17-year civil war in the south, he stressed that dialogue with the opposition Umma Party would continue.
The daily cited Beshir as saying at a meeting Sunday night with leaders of the registered political parties that his government would "remain committed to guaranteeing freedoms", despite the existing state of emergency and the split in the National Congress.
Meanwhile, the Sudanese-based officials of the Umma and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) were reported here to have pledged Sunday not to conclude any bilateral or partial agreement with the government outside the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), whose leadership is abroad.
As-Sahafa daily Monday quoted DUP Spokesman Ali Mahmoud Hassanain as saying the meeting was for consultation and coordination of positions of the two parties regarding reconciliation with the government.
"The two sides have agreed on backing the NDA and on commitment to its principles," Hassanain said.
He added that the meeting reflected "the historic relationship" between the two parties which he said share identical views on "major issues".
He said a current dialogue between the Umma Party and the government was "an exploratory" one which any single party could embark on.
Hassanain denied any contacts between the government and DUP leader Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani, who is also NDA chairman and lives abroad.
Mirghani acts only in his capacity as NDA chairman and in the context of peace initiatives by Egypt and Libya and by the regional Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).
Umma Party spokesman Adam Mussa Madibbu was cited by Al Rai Al Aam as saying the meeting had shown identical viewpoints on all issues raised and had discussed means for strengthening the domestic NDA and its participation in an NDA general conference in Asmara, Eritrea, next June 5.
He said his party had held a separate meeting to discuss the impact of the ouster of Turabi as NC head on the prospects of holding a proposed national dialogue conference between the government and opposition.
Madibbu said he believed Beshir's move was aimed at unifying the government's political and executive position, citing the president's declared commitment to achieving peace, unity and democracy.
The Islamist and Arab government in Khartoum has been waging a 17-year war against rebels in the south, which is mainly Christian and animist. However, northern opposition groups have also taken up arms against the government in the last few years -- (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)