Sudan’s SPLM threatens to boycott parliament

Sudan’s junior partners in government threatened to boycott the last parliamentary session before an election unless President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s party implements a north-south peace deal.
Relations between the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party (NCP) are tense, with accusations of delays from both sides in implementing the deal which enshrined democratic transformation and the first multi-party elections in 24 years, due in April, Reuters reports.
Laws including reform of the powerful intelligence forces, the trade unions and a bill governing a southern referendum on secession in 2011 must be passed by parliament.
But the SPLM and NCP, who formed a coalition government after the 2005 deal, have not agreed on their content.
“We are going to boycott the whole parliamentary session if they do not respond positively,” said Yasir Arman, head of the SPLM’s northern sector. “There is an absence of political will from the National Congress.”
He said the NCP refused to accept changes to the SPLM’s members in parliament and had not included key laws, such as the referendum bill, on the parliamentary agenda.
More than 20 political parties have said they would boycott the election if fair laws are not passed this session.
“If we do not put pressure on the National Congress then (they) are taking us to war and we don’t want that,” Arman said, adding their former northern foes had one week to take action.
The NCP, which dominates parliament, said they were meeting the SPLM and were sure they would agree on the outstanding laws.
“The NCP is committed to finishing the referendum bill before the end of this parliamentary session,” senior official Ibrahim Ghandour said.
Political tension is growing ahead of the April 2010 election and yesterday some 20 political parties, academics and civil society groups launched a campaign against a draft law before parliament governing Sudan’s intelligence services.
They said the law contravened the constitution by giving the intelligence services powers of arrest, search and to confiscate property rather than just information gathering.
“This (law) is the most dangerous obstacle to democratic transformation,” human rights lawyer Amin Mekki said.
He said the campaign would lobby the United Nations, the African Union, Arab League and foreign governments to pressure the NCP to change the law.
Analysts say Sudan’s intelligence services are as powerful as the army. The campaign leaders said the force was “above the law” and parliament needed to remove all its executive powers.
The north-south civil war in Africa’s largest country claimed some 2 million lives and drove 4 million from their homes.

Pic: South Sudan leader