Sudan movement aims to challenge Bashir regime

Communists, Islamists and Arab nationalists announced a 'National Movement for Change'

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A politically diverse group of Sudanese including communists, Islamists and Arab nationalists on Saturday announced a National Movement for Change seeking a more inclusive form of government for the vast nation.

The group aims to challenge the Arab-dominated regime of President Omar al-Bashir, which has for years been fighting ethnic insurgencies fuelled by complaints of economic and political neglect by the Islamist central government in Khartoum.

The conflicts include an 11-year-old insurgency in the western Darfur region and uprisings by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) that began nearly three years ago in South Kordofan's Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile areas.

And in 2011 South Sudan, which has a mostly Christian and animist population, separated from Sudan after successive civil wars lasting for most of the country's independent existence.

"The problem of Sudan, it is not in Darfur, it is not in Blue Nile. It is not in Nuba mountains, actually it is in Khartoum here," Khalid Tigani, a founder of the Movement for Change, told AFP on the sidelines of the group's first press conference.

Tigani and seven other Islamist intellectuals initially announced the movement in October, aiming to reach out to a cross-section of the multi-religious, multi-cultural country in a discussion about Sudan's future.

Their founding document contains a wider group of 28 signatories.

"Most of them are not Islamists," Tigani said. "We have some people from (the) national Arab movement, some of them are from ex-communist, some of them are from ex-SPLM-North, so we have different people from different backgrounds."

Bashir's regime took power 25 years ago in an Islamist-backed coup.

Faced with a ravaged economy, dissension within his ruling party and urgent calls for reform from outside it, Bashir in January appealed for a broad national political discussion and "renaissance".

But Tigani said the government's dialogue seems to be "for election purposes" when what is needed is a detailed look at the roots of the crisis, and for all Sudanese to have a role in shaping the country's future.

"One of the goals of this movement is to break the wall between the secularists and Islamists," Abdul Aziz Al-Sawi, a former Baath Party leader, told the news conference.

The movement's website,, pictures two clasped hands, one light-colored, the other dark, in a symbol of diversity.

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