Sudan crackdown betrays Islam, says ruling party reformers

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Reformers in Sudan’s ruling party on Saturday told President Omar al-Bashir that a deadly crackdown on protests over fuel price hikes was a betrayal of his regime’s Islamic foundations.

“The (economic) package that was implemented by the government, and the crackdown against those opposed to it, is far from mercy and justice and the right of peaceful expression,” the 31 prominent reformers said in a letter to Bashir which they made public.

The lead signatory was Ghazi Salaheddine, a former presidential adviser, but the others included retired armed forces Brigadier Mohammed Ibrahim.

Ibrahim was sentenced to five years in prison in April for allegedly leading a coup plot against the regime last year, but Bashir later granted amnesty to him and others involved.

Other retired military and police officers, members of parliament, and a former cabinet minister who was a key figure in the 1989 coup which brought Bashir to power also signed the document.

The letter, which Salaheddine posted on his Facebook page, said Bashir’s National Congress Party regime came to power “with great promise to implement sharia,” the Islamic law code based on the teachings of the Koran.

“And we know that the great value of sharia is to save the lives of the people and to provide justice, rescue the weak, and have mercy upon the poor,” it said.

The government measures, which almost doubled pump prices of gasoline and diesel, have had a severe impact on civilians, the reformers said.

The package of economic measures was not presented to parliament and citizens had no chance to give input peacefully, they added.

“This opened the way for those who want to express their views strongly and violently, leading to much destruction and killing,” the letter said.

It called for an end to the measures, which the government took to try to stabilise a stricken economy, and for “professionals” to take over economic policy assisted by members of other political parties.

The reformers also sought an independent investigation into the shooting of civilians, and compensation for those wounded and killed.

They further called for an end to press censorship, and respect for constitutional freedoms including peaceful assembly.

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