Sudanese Opposition Leader: Bashir Does Not Represent Islam

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In an interview with Al-Hayat, Sudanese opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi shares his perspective on the regime’s claims to be representing Islam in the government.

Hassan al-Turabi, secretary-general of the Sudanese Popular Congress Party (PCP), said, “The situation in Sudan has worsened to an inordinate degree, and the country is undergoing great turmoil.” He stressed that “we are most keen on effecting (democratic) change and toppling the regime because it historically represents Islam. And we cannot allow such a corrupt and oppressive regime to represent Islam.”

In an interview conducted by Al-Hayat in Doha, the Sudanese Islamist leader said he expected “the regime to fall under the weight of a popular revolutionary movement.” He attributed the decision to halt the flow of petroleum from South Sudan through the North to “President (Omar al-Bashir), who reneged after signing an agreement with them [the Southerners], and told them to go drink [their petroleum].”

Turabi said that Sudan “is undergoing great turmoil, and people inside the regime have grown despondent, no longer knowing if they belonged to the Islamist Movement or the ruling National Congress.” He expressed his belief that the regime would fall “as other Sudanese governments have fallen under the weight of popular revolutionary movements (in the 1964 and 1985 revolutions). The Sudanese people as a whole have grown tired of being oppressed, and one incident, even if not political, can ignite the situation [on the ground]. We only fear that chaos would ensue, and therefore strive to control things.”

He continued: “We (the opposition) have proposed a transitional constitution that brings together all political forces, in order to make all sides happy. There will be (in the transitional phase after the regime is toppled) control mechanisms (for a limited time) to address urgent problems and give all parties their freedom. Subsequently, constitutional elections would be held and the people would decide which constitutional amendments should be made, and elect those that best represent them.”

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He stressed that “the opposition will not accept that a national government be formed within the framework of the (ruling) regime, for any national government must be formed after the regime is overthrown. No one will participate in elections organized by the regime, and time must be given prior to elections being held (after the transitional period starts).”

Turabi said, “If a coup were to occur from inside the [Presidential] Palace, then all the opposition would stand against it and fight it until elections are held in a manner that ensures freedoms. We do not care much about who would assume power, whether from inside or outside the palace. The preferred option is for the armed forces combined to rise and assume power, without subsequently ruling us militarily, while allowing the people to form a transitional government composed of independent or partisan figures.”

He explained: “My position towards toppling the regime is unwavering. We are more adamant than most [on the need to overthrow Bashir’s regime], because the Sudanese regime has historically been associated with Islam, and we cannot allow that Islam be represented by an extremely corrupt regime that is ripping the country apart and will tear apart whatever remains of it. It is an oppressive regime that imprisons its people and has caused them grave economic crises.”

Turabi added: “There is contact between us and the South. We strive for the South to peacefully and willingly reunite with the North and return to Sudan’s bosom.” Concerning the decision to halt the flow of petroleum from the South through pipelines in the North, he said that this was caused “by Bashir, who reneged after signing an agreement with them (in Addis Ababa), and told them [the Southerners] to go drink [their petroleum]. They don’t want to be governed by a promise that others reneged on.”

Turabi said, “What is happening in Syria is scandalous for us all [as Arabs].” He described Iran and Hezbollah’s entry into the war as a “tragedy” and said: “I am neither Sunni nor Shiite. I always thought that religious sects were a thing of the past and would fade with time as different people read the ancient texts and embraced whatever content suited their needs. But, it would seem, that other intentions, hiding behind the guise of sectarianism, are at play now in Syria. This is a matter of grave importance that threatens the unity of the Muslim ummah in general.  In other words, the Syrian revolution, even if it did come out victorious, would do so at the cost of untold blood being spilled, engendering anger and revenge that might lead to events that no one would like to see occurring in any country of the world.”

He attributed Iran and Hezbollah’s entry into the Syrian war to “a nationalistic tendency draped in Shiite sectarianism that envelops all of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah, which might be the downfall of them all, but they do not care. Why do we lament Hussein’s loss (the Prophet’s grandson) if we so love death, the destruction of houses, and the killing of people to this extent?”

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