LESSONS OF MODERN DEVELOPMENT
Chapter One: The British Legacy
Chapter Two: The Legacy of Democratic
Chapter Three: The Legacy of Autocratic
This section replies
to the question: how did this happen? Covering: The British legacy,
the legacy of democratic regimes, and the legacy of autocratic
THE BRITISH LEGACY
The British have
conquered the Sudan in 1898, in the name of the Khedive of Egypt.
They established a regime, which was theoretically a condominium,
but in reality, a British dependency. They created the modern Sudan.
They endowed it with a modern legal system, a modern economy, modern
system of education and modern civil, military and police services.
service, which was responsible for these achievements, was a
small-dedicated group of high caliber. Finally, when national and
international circumstances made it inevitable, they effected an
orderly democratic transition to an elected Sudanese Authority.
In the debit side,
the British Development policy had a very narrow base. They
neglected many parts of the country not directly involved in the
production, irrigation and transport of cotton, especially the
Southern part of the Sudan, where in many cases; their policy had a
negative racist content.
British southern Sudanese policy must be deemed the worst black spot
in British Imperial History.
intellectuals maintain, in the words of Dr. Francis Deng: “The
gravest mistake of the British is that when they withdrew from the
Sudan, they did not erect a constitutional barrier to separate North
and South Sudan from each other”.
POLICY TOWARDS THE SOUTH
The real failure of
the British Imperial policy towards the Southern Sudan, is that they
embarked upon two diametrically
The First was the so called Southern
policy (1920), which explained that the policy of the Sudan
Government was to keep out “Mohamedan” influence from the
Southern Sudan, and suggested that “the possibility of the Southern
(Black) portion of the Sudan, being eventually cut off from the
Northern (Arab) area, and linked up with some central African
system, be borne in mind”.
In pursuit of that tendency, in 1921, the Governors of the three
Southern provinces were no longer required to attend all the
meetings of Governors held annually in Khartoum. Instead, they were
to have their own meetings in the South, and keep in touch with
their opposite numbers in Kenya and Uganda. In 1922, the Passports
and Permits ordinance was promulgated. The ordinance empowered the
Governor General to declare any part of the Sudan a “Closed
“Southern Policy” aimed at prohibiting the use of the Arabic
language in the South, prohibiting Islamic and encouraging Christian
proselysation, and setting a “bamboo” curtain between North and
The Second diametrically opposite Southern
policy: In 1946, the administration embarked upon a policy as
follows: “The policy of the Government of Sudan regarding the
Southern Sudan, is to act upon the fact that the peoples of the
Southern Sudan are distinctively African and Negroid, but that
geography and economics combine to render them inextricably bound
for future development to the Middle Eastern and Arabicized Northern
Sudan; and therefore, to ensure that they shall, by educational and
economic development, be equipped to stand up for themselves in the
future, as socially and economically, the equals of their partners
of the Northern Sudan in the Sudan of the future”.
This policy later
informed the Juba conference of June 1947. The conference was
attended by Sudan Government British officials, Northern and
Southern Sudanese government officials, a score of Southern Sudanese
tribal chiefs and one Northern Sudanese tribal Chief. The conference
resolved upon two matters, namely, that the North and South
constitute one state, and that the planned Legislative Assembly
should represent the whole Sudan. It is clear from the minutes of
the conference, that the Southern representatives had several
reservations about the resolutions, first, that the South
could not yet decide upon the question of a united State, and
second, that the South has not been prepared for a legislative
assembly, as has been the case in the North”.
Southern reservations were not really accommodated. SAYED MOHAMMAD
SALIH AL SHINGITTI,
the most Senior Northerner attending, offered many explanations and
assurances. However, his good will assurances cannot be considered
representative of the North, nor binding on it. The British
officials in the conference were simply advocating an already
decided policy. They had no room for reservations.
HANDLING THE ROLE OF THE EGYPTIAN PARTNER
Cromer had said: “We run the Sudan largely by bluff”.
They have bluffed Egypt out of its partnership role in the
administration of the Sudan. Egypt’s position in the Sudan has grown
out of MOHAMMAD ALI’s vague imperialist notions to become along with
British withdrawal from Egypt, a corner stone of modern Egyptian
Nationalism. Therefore, the way the British Government treated
Egyptian claims and interests in the Sudan stamped Egyptian policies
towards the Sudan with doubt, bitterness and anxiety.
Those two aspects of
the British legacy in the Sudan, namely, the “Southern Policy”, and
the handling of the role of Egypt in the Sudan, have bequeathed the
successor State in the Sudan, two time bombs, which threatened it’s
The fist time bomb
exploded into a marathon civil- war. The second, haunted Sudanese
Egyptian relations, and stamped them with a high doze of mutual
suspicion and anxiety.
LEGACY OF DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS
This year -1999, the
modern Sudanese State established in 1956 has grown 43 years old.
Two years have been years of transition government. The rest, 41
years, are divided between six systems of government. Three
Parliamentary democracies spanning nine years. Three autocracies
sharing 31 years.
In his erudite
article on the African State as a political refugee, Professor Ali
Mazuri studied the crisis, which bedeviled the African states since
their independence. He stated that a state has six functions,
sovereignty over the national territory, command over national
resources, collection of revenue, the construction of the national
infrastructure, the provision of social services, and the
maintenance of law and order. Any state, which fails in these
duties, is in trouble. The weakness of the institutions of modern
Statecraft, and the lack of National cohesion due to the ethnicity
factor caused the crisis of the African State in post-colonial
Those factors make
democracy unworkable because under democratic conditions there is
too little government leading to chaos. The alternative
authoritarian regimes relapse into too much government and so
tyranny. Both conditions, namely chaos and tyranny constitute failed
Democracy is a
highly advanced system of modern government. In the west, where it
developed, it was preceded by the Nation- State as recognized by the
Peace of Westphalia 1648, the Nineteenth century Industrial
Revolution, and a high degree of literacy and education.
have not taken place in the numerous African States, which acquired
their Independence by a democratic process. Problems associated with
weak institutions of state, incomplete nationhood, undeveloped
economy and religious and ethnic conflicts, weakened the successor
democracies, and made them an easy prey for military coups d’etat.
regimes which ensued invariably tried squandered national resources
on extra military expenditures, extra security expenditures, abused
human rights, put an end to basic freedoms, gave free reign to
corruption and attempted to resolve National problems by high
Needless to say,
the whole exercise boiled down to a story of failure.
Democracy in Sudan
performed relatively better than elsewhere in Africa, and better
than the Sudanese despotic regimes.
democratic regimes of the independent Sudan: 1956-58, 1965-69,
1986-89 may be credited with:
smooth administration of the transition of power into independent
maintenance of a modern welfare state which abided by free and fair
elections, independent judiciary, a neutral civil service, National
armed forces and Police and a free press.
ran a rationally administered National economy.
maintained a non-aligned foreign policy in terms of the Cold War,
and a balanced regional policy in terms of Sudan’s
Arab and African commitments.
maintained a level of respect for Human Rights, and basic freedoms,
and tolerance of religious and political plurality, which was rare
conditions. Therefore, ideological organizations of a Communist, and
Islamicist orientation, which were promptly suppressed in many
Asian, African and Latin American countries, were highly tolerated.
Regional lobby organizations were accepted and in many cases
political and cultural nature of the South/North civil war was
recognized, and consequently, all the attempts at a peaceful
resolution of the conflict took place during the Democratic period,
The Round- Table Conference, 1965.
The Twelve- Man Committee, 1966-67.
The All-Sudanese Party Peace Conference, 1967.
The KOKADAM Declaration, 1986.
The Forum for National Accord, 1987.
The Sudanese Peace Initiative, 1988.
The Sudanese Transitional Program, 1989.
The Sudanese Peace Process, which culminated in
agreement to hold a National Constitutional Conference in 1989.
modern Sudanese political system, had a major Achilles heel:
failed to recognize and sufficiently accommodate cultural plurality.
When modern National Consciousness developed in the first half of
the 20th century in the North, it developed upon an
Islamic Arabic identity, in close association with the Middle East
and North Africa, especially Egypt, as the major cultural power
center of the region. It was assumed that all other Sudanese
cultural identities will inevitably be assimilated.
It is true that in
the cultural field, many Northern Sudanese writers, poets and
artists began from the sixties onwards to recognize the special
cultural status in the Sudan, and hence the emergence of what Ahmad
Al-Tayeb Zein Al- Abdin called
a concept defined by writers and poets in ethnicity conscious terms,
which leaned heavily on Sudan’s
Africanity, namely, the poets: MOHAMMAD AL MEKKI IBRAHIM, AL NOUR
OTHMAN ABBAKAR, MOHAMMAD ABD AL-HAY, SALAH AHMED IBRAHIM, and so on.
A portrait of our
nation: Seven doves, a wave of turbans, a host of palm trees, and a
mass of potentialities. I see in view: An idol, a drum, a Koran”.
Mohammad Al Makki
I shall come back
You bright black
the mountain top and its side,
Desert and the Forest.
Mohammad ABD Al-
However, it must be
stated categorically, that the Sudanese political system had a blind
spot in terms of recognizing and accommodating Sudan’s
cultural diversity. Only as an aftermath of violent civil conflict,
did that realization and accommodation emerge.
That blind spot
aggravated another blind spot in the modern history of the Sudan
concerning the issue of slavery. Contrary to what is expected, the
British administration in the Sudan implemented a policy, which
almost tolerated slavery.
The high points of
expression of modern Northern Sudanese political consciousness,
namely, the 1924 revolt, and the Graduates Congress movement, were
silent on the issue of slavery. The institution of slavery died a
quiet death in the Sudan. However, it left a mass of psychological
and social scars which unless they are properly treated, they will
continue to fuel negative feelings and attitudes. The subject is
pregnant with myth and discrimination, and needs to be handled
objectively. However, no clarifications and explanations will
dispense with the need for the progeny of the slavers to disown and
repent and for the progeny of the victims to forgive and forget, and
for both groups to recognize the essential brotherhood of Man which
disastrous failure of the modern Sudanese Democratic political
system is the fact that it didn’t
effect a structural reform of the National economy to broaden the
base of development, and tackle the deprivation of substantial
regions of the country and sections of the community. The unbalanced
nature of the development of the modern Sudanese economy, led to the
development of the modern sector of the economy, at the cost of the
traditional sector, and the enrichment of the urban centers at the
cost of the rural areas. This subsidized the high and middle classes
in the urban areas, and impoverished the rest of the country.
Consequently, an unjust distribution of economic resources between
regions and social groups prevailed. An exodus from the regions into
urban areas occurred, expressions of grievances multiplied, and
social peace subsided.
The third major
failure of the democratic systems of government in Sudan is the
unrealistic un-original attitude to the democratic system itself.
It was generally assumed that the political parties, the
judiciary, the press, the trade unions, the armed forces and all the
institutions of Democracy in the modern Sudanese State, will
automatically develop into their expected roles of a normative
To begin with, the
educated classes in many
countries gave democracy a very low ranking in their priorities.
Their real priorities were economic development, modernization,
national unity and so on.
drew extensively from classical thinkers, like J. J. Rousseau, who
argued that human dignity, and freedom, could only be achieved
through equality. This requires a revolution at once, political and
moral, an assertion of the will of an undifferentiated people as the
only legitimate source of power
This led to resort to a Rousseau -type concept to argue for the
single party dictatorship, as representative of an undifferentiated
people. The party is seen as representing the general will.
Marx derided the
Democratic bourgeois state. However, Marx’s ideas about the
instrument of political change, the party, and the seat of political
power, the state, were very vague. It was left to Lenin to build the
Socialist Party and State. Lenin stood Marxism upside down, because
he relegated to politics -the Party and the State- the key role
which in Marxism was the role of the economy.
The Leninist Party
as taken to its logical conclusion by Stalin, became the most
effective modern organization for political mobilization. The
Leninist State as perfected by Stalin became the ultimate political
powerhouse in the 20th century. Both Mussolini and
Hitler, simply borrowed the Stalinist political system and state
craft to serve fascist ideas.
Left and Right, who drew large sections of the intelligensia in the
third world in the Third World into their support, deprived third
World Democracy from the enthusiasm and support of many of the best
brains. Problem number one, which required some novel devices, is
how to give the democratic system legitimacy in the eyes of this
section of the intelligensia? An Arab writer, George Tarabishi, has
recently published a book
“On the culture of
said “we belong to a generation, which was deceived about Democracy.
Revolutionary movements and despotic regimes have persuaded
themselves and deceived us into believing that Democracy is a fake
system, which should be radically reformed. After we witnessed the
bloody performance of the Radical regimes which oppressed the people
and achieved nothing, and after we witnessed the collapse of the
Communist’s experiments, it dawned upon us the reality about
Democracy as the best system devised by human endeavor.
Our discovery of the
reality and worthiness of Democracy is the best thing that happened
to our generation towards the end of the 20th century. It
has become the alternative to all the failed ideologies in the
The second problem
is that of inability to see that there are certain problems which
cannot be resolved by majority votes. Differences in religion,
language, ethnicity form cleavage societies because in them people
do not differ on the basis of ideology like Liberalism, or
Socialism, nor do their differences boil down to differences in
interests like social classes. Arthur Lewis maintained that
“ African governments will
achieve greater legitimacy if Parliamentary elections, the
appointment of public officials, and the distribution of public
funds among the subcultures is guided by the principle of
This concept was
termed by social scientists LIPHART and LEHAMBRUCH: CONSOCIETAL
decision making democracy. They argued that culturally fragmented
countries could hope to attain democratic stability if they utilized
consociational, rather than competitive (winner -take- all)
majoritarian decision making”.
In societies where
such ascriptive groupings (based on heritage), democracy needs to
cultivate concepts and institutions of balance.
RELATIONS WITH THE
The fourth major failure of the
Democratic political system is
concerning the relations with the armed forces.
To take the armed
forces for granted, and expect them to keep to their legal function,
and behave themselves in the troubled conditions of Third World
states, is to court trouble, as we have harshly discovered in the
Sudan. At the dawn of independence, the political system needed to
consider the role of the armed forces, and make basic decisions
about it. There are three possible
alternative policies towards the armed forces, which a modern state,
which is not actually run by them could adopt:
and most desirable is to require them by constitution and law, to be
confined to their professional duty as the defense arm of executive
elected power, as is the case in the Western democracies. However,
this is a highly advanced state of affairs, which had taken the West
centuries to achieve.
is the extreme measure adopted by Costa Richa in Latin America, the
abolition of the armed forces as an unwanted menace to the political
is to involve the armed forces in the political process in what
Azikwe, the first president of Nigeria, called diarchy. It is
suggested that the systems of government in both Turkey and Egypt
integrate the armed forces in collaboration with the civilian
democratic process to form a diarchy.
to attend to, and resolve the role of the military in a well thought
out policy, cost the Sudan very dearly, indeed. How dearly? We shall
from coup making, the fact that the armed forces exercised a high
degree of autonomy from executive civil authority permitted the
armed forces to run the civil war in a way, which involved many
political blunders, which the democratically elected civilian
governments had to accept. I name three major incidents. They are:
The military command in the South became so
frustrated by the political activities of the Southern intelligensia
during the second democratic reign in Sudan (1965-69). They
generally regarded them as a fifth column for the ANYANYA armed
movement. Therefore, in 1965, scores of Southern itelligensia were
rounded up, and
in JUBA and WAW. PRIME MINISTER MOHAMMAD AHMED MAHGOUB headed the
then civilian government. At that time, I was the elected leader of
the Umma Party, which SAYED MAHGOUB represented, in the governing
coalition. My first clash with the Prime Minister, which, among
other factors, led to the schism in the Umma party in 1966, was
linked to my demand that the government should bring the military
authorities involved to book.
The second incident was again during a second reign
of SAYED MAHGOUB as Prime Minister, in 1968. Another over zealous
military authority saw SAYED WILLIAM DENG, the president of SANU as
a security risk. SAYED WILLIAM DENG was the most farsighted Southern
statesman, who contributed so heavily to the peace process in the
Sudan. He courageously returned to the Sudan as soon as the military
regime of (1958-64) collapsed. He established an well-organized and
well-run political party, SANU, inside the Sudan. He engaged in the
fruitful discussions, which through the Round Table conference, the
Twelve Man Committee, the All Sudanese Party Conference and the
Constitutional Commission, produced the most viable draft for a just
resolution of the civil- war. Some military authorities in the
South, saw him in a different light, and regarded him as a
collaborator with the ANYANYA armed movement. They ambushed him and
killed him while electioneering during the 1968 general elections.
They deprived the Sudan of a pillar for peace, and an honorable
statesman to build peace and mutual understanding in the Sudan.
The third incident happened in February 1989. As
Prime Minister, military operations military intelligence, briefed
me about the developments of the civil war, particularly, about the
of LIRIA, a post near JUBA. In the presence of all the high command
and the core commanders, I rejected the briefing and challenged the
meeting to answer to six main criticisms about the administration of
the war. They accepted the truth of the criticism, and so I asked
them to put their act together, and recommend the policies necessary
to effect the necessary reforms. Instead, and in defense of their
autonomy, they politicized the issue, avoided the military
accountability and came up with the Memorandum of February 1989.
INDEPENDENCE OF THE
problem concerned the independence of the Judiciary.
to Democratic principles, the Independence of the judiciary is a
basic Democratic principle. However, after the October uprising of
1964, an active politician, SAYED BABAIKIR AWADALLAH, became chief
justice. He didn’t
respect the sanctity of his post, and continued his active radical
politics. Without the neutrality of the judges, the independence of
the judiciary becomes a mockery of justice and politics.
One of the
unfortunate moments of Democratic government in Sudan took place in
1965, during the first reign of SAYED MAHGOUB as Prime Minister.
During a discussion circle in the faculty of education, Khartoum
University, a leftist student was accused of insulting SAYEDA AISHA,
the wife of Prophet Mohammad. The incident led to demonstrations
organized by the ISLAMIC CHARTER FRONT, the forerunner of the
NATIONAL ISLAMIC FRONT NIF. The demonstrations went to the
then president of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, SAYED ISMAEL AL
AZHARI, who declared his support for what the demonstrators
demanded: the banning of the Communist Party of Sudan, and the
expulsion of its 12 members of Parliament. Some UMMA Party leaders
supported the demands. Both the Prime Minister SAYED MAHGOUB and
myself had reservations about the demands, but the necessary
resolutions received massive parliamentary support. The measures
themselves were a high handed way of using majoritarian
decision-making. They were one of two incidents where parliamentary
majorities behaved in an unbalanced high handed way; the other was
when a majority of parliamentarians resolved to force dissolution of
Parliament in 1968, by resigning from the constituent assembly. In
both cases, it is formal Parliamentary majorities betraying the
spirit of democracy.
The dissolution of
the Communist Party had serious consequences in that the Party
appealed to the judiciary against the Parliamentary resolutions. The
judge concerned, who was himself a communist sympathizer, declared
the resolutions unconstitutional. The chief justice was a communist
collaborator. The result was a serious weakening of the system of
democratic government, because of a major contradiction between two
institutions of state: The legislative, and the Judiciary powers.
The high handed dissolution of the constituent assembly drove the
aggrieved party into radical opposition and extra parliamentary
tactics. Both measures thus eroded some of the legitimacy of the
democratic system of government, playing into the hands of the coup
makers of MAY 1969.
LEGACY OF AUTOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS
The Modern Sudan was
plagued with three autocratic regimes established by three military
1958-1964, 1969- 1985, 1989-…
THE FIRST AUTOCRACY
The first autocratic
regime (1958-64) was established by a General’s
coup. It had no specific political ideology. It formed a simple
military autocracy but it formed neither a command party nor a
police state. The coup took place in collaboration with the then
Prime Minister, SAYED ABDALLAH KHALIL, who was the Secretary General
of the UMMA PARTY, which was in coalition with the PEOPLES’
DEMOCRATIC PARTY. In 1958, the Umma Party was worried about
political instability in the Sudan. There were difficulties between
the coalition partners about drafting the country’s
constitution. Within the ranks of the UMMA PARTY, there were two
alternative policies: One led by the President of the Party, SAYED
AL SIDDIG AL MAHDI, which pointed out that stability in Sudan is
better served by an UMMA coalition with the NATIONAL UNIONIST PARTY
headed by SAYED ISMAEL AL AZHARI. The then Prime Minister, and
Secretary General of the UMMA Party thought otherwise and
recommended strengthening the ongoing coalition with the P.D.P. Umma
Party members of Parliament already began collecting signatures in
support of a change in coalition partners. The Prime Minister, who
was himself an ex-army officer, had earlier discussed in the Umma
high councils, the possibility of a hand over of power to the army,
to help prevent the expected instability, and to help draft the
constitution in an atmosphere free from political party maneuvering.
The Umma party leadership discussed the option, and dismissed it. As
differences within the UMMA party about whom to form coalition with,
developed into two competing lobbies, the Prime Minister, in the
absence of the President of the Party abroad, clinched a deal with
the armed forces’
High Command, to take over power, suspend the constitution, effect
certain reforms, and administer the country on a temporary basis.
However, the army high command had ideas of their own. If they were
to assume power, they will assume it for themselves and not to
execute anybody else’s
agenda. The commanders of the Northern and Eastern army commands
staged a mini-coup, which was resolved by reaching a compromise with
High command. One result of that compromise was to dissociate the
military take over completely from the outgoing Prime Minister, and
to rule the country in their own rights, as a
The November Regime, so described because the coup took place on 17th
NOVEMBER 1958, had no political program, besides administering the
country and keeping law and order. However, to do so they suspended
all basic freedoms, and denied all the internationally recognized
Human Rights. They put the country’s
regions under the command of the regional military commanders. They
allowed some devolution of local and regional power in terms of
local government councils, and provincial councils. Otherwise, and
particularly in the administration of the technical ministries:
Agriculture, Finance, Industry, Education, Health and so on, they
appointed technocrats, and allowed business to proceed as usual.
They also espoused a balanced but Western leaning foreign policy.
Without making any structural reforms, their administration of the
economy was rational and benefited from Western and Eastern sources.
In addition to the suspension of basic freedoms and denial of Human
Rights, the NOVEMBER regime’s
major blunder was it’s
When the Sudanese
political parties discussed the possibility of declaring the
independence of the Sudan by Parliamentary decree, rather than
through a plebiscite as formally stated by the ANGLO-EGYPTIAN
Agreement of 1954, the representatives of the Liberal Party (The
Party of the South) supported the motion, on condition that the
South will be given federal status in the Sudanese Constitution. The
UMMA Party and others promised them that the issue would be taken up
when the Constitution is drafted. The coup of November 1958 put an
end to the process of constitution making, and so to that promise.
That was not the
only Southern deprivation. The coup dissolved parliament, dismissed
the elected government, and disbanded the political parties. In all
of these institutions, the South, along with other regions, was
represented. After the coup, all these voices were silenced. The
formation of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (the governing
body) was totally ethnicity-blind. The only Southern representation
was a single cabinet seat (cabinets in military regimes are
lightweight bodies which take and not issue orders). A veteran
Southern politician SAYED SANTINO DENG held the seat.
Many of the
disbanded Southern politicians fled into exile after the coup, and
formed with others (THE SUDAN AFRICAN NATIONAL UNION- SANU), and its
military wing (THE ANYANYA). The only previous violent incident
involving NORTH/SOUTH antagonism was the revolt of August 1955.
self-government in Sudan (1954), there was much talk in the councils
of the Sudan government about the need for special measures to
protect Southern interests during the coming self-government.
Nothing specific was decided. Then came the process of SUDANIZATION
and British withdrawal. Sudanization became a process of replacing
the British with Northern Sudanese personnel. The new administrators
fraternized with Northern traders, who dominated trade activity in
the South- THE JELLABA. At that time, the Southern Command of the
Army of Sudan, was composed of local recruits. The officers were
overwhelmingly from the North. On the 18th August 1955,
some Southern troops in TORIT refused to obey some military
administrative orders and revolted. They killed, en masse, their
Northern officers, many Northern administrators, and many of the
traders and their families. The revolt spread to other towns and
posts. Subsequently, the mutiny was crushed, and the many Southern
troops involved were captured, prosecuted, and punished.
On March 1963,
General ABBOUD, the head of the military junta, was scheduled to
attend the inauguration of the O.A.U. at ADDIS ABEBA. As a measure
of good- will, he pardoned the Southern troops, who were imprisoned
after the August 1955 mutiny. That pardon was not part of a wider
policy, but an isolated event. In other respects, the junta’s
Southern policy was repressive. It disenfranchised Southern
political representation. It espoused a policy of highhanded
therefore, that the released ex-troops joined the ANYANYA, and the
military resistance intensified. Ever since colonial times, the
South was venu to an extensive presence of Church missionary
activity. European religious personnel manned the Missionary
establishments. The junta accused them of aiding and abetting the
armed resistance led by ANYANYA. The junta decided to expel them, en
masse, in March 1964. As the situation deteriorated further, the
junta decided upon the only option it was trained to take: military
action. In April 1964, I published a pamphlet “The Southern
Problem”. I argued: “The problem is a political, economic, and
cultural problem that can not be resolved by military means. It
should be widely and freely discussed, to find the appropriate
solution”. The junta did see the need for a wide discussion of the
problem; they appointed a National commission to do so. They even
allowed some measure of free discussion of the Southern problem as a
national issue. However, as usual in such circumstances, the
discussions went out of hand. Discussion groups and rallies were
organized in the University of Khartoum. The conclusions reached in
general confirmed the view that military means can not solve the
problem, and that in the absence of basic freedoms, there cannot be
any meaningful discussion, and so resolution of the problem. The
Southern problem led to the National problem of democracy. At that
point, the junta moved to suppress political activity in the
University of Khartoum. The violent suppression of the rally to
discuss the problem on 21st October 1964 led to the immediate death
of AHMAD AL QURSHI TAHA, whose death became the rallying point for
the uprising, which ultimately toppled the NOVEMBER junta.
second autocratic regime, which is also the first totalitarian
regime (1969-85) in Sudan was a Colonel’s coup supported by two
ideological associations, communists, and Nasserites. Nasserite
elements have a very limited presence in the Sudanese political
society. They never exceeded a handful of intellectuals and army
officers, closely linked with Nasserite intelligence institutions.
But the communist party in Sudan was a strong organization, well
established among the modern sections of Sudanese society, and
within trade unions and farmers unions. The party even had a mass
base, which in 1968 enabled the General Secretary of the Party SAYED
ABDAL KHALIG MAHJOUB to win a central parliamentary seat in
OMDURMAN. It is fair to say that the communists and their leftist
fellow travelers provided the political support for the new regime.
The communist party of Sudan has since offered ambivalent attitudes
to the coup. However, actions are more decisive than words. Their
participation may be represented by the following facts:
The military cadre of the party was involved in the
coup and their leaders became members in the Revolutionary Command
On the eve of 25th May 1969, the central
committee of the party decided to accept participation in the coup
government, so their participation was the official party policy.
The front organizations of the communist party,
namely, the Sudanese Women’s Union, the Sudanese Youth Union, and so
on, have become the new regime’s supporting civilian organizations.
The policies of the new regime, domestic and foreign,
were copies of communist party programs.
The know- how employed to establish a totalitarian
state, was drawn from Eastern European Communist and Nasserite
The Soviet mentor of Sudanese Communism became the
Godfather of the new regime.
It is true to say
that there was a basic contradiction between the communists and
their other allies in the 25th of May regime. NIMERI with
encouragement from Nasserist and other leftist elements saw himself
as a Sudanese Nasser, in whom the buck of Sudanese politics has
stopped. The communist party, on the other hand, was adamant about
its political autonomy, which it expected to prevail. In this sense,
its participation in the regime was only a phase in its political
evolution. They thought that the buck of Sudanese politics stopped
with them. The two positions were ultimately irreconcilable. They
fell apart, and in July 1971, after a communist party associated
coup failed, NIMERI butchered the leadership of the communist party
of Sudan, employing against it all the brutality which was earlier
applied to those who opposed the regime, measures which at that
time, communist spokesmen called “revolutionary violence”.
The legacy of the
second autocracy in Sudan consists of five aspects:
It opened the chapter of bloody history in the modern Sudan. The
ruthless suppression of opposition in ABA Island, and NORTHERN
OMDURMAN (WADNUBAWI). Then came the ruthless suppression of the
It established the first totalitarian state in Sudan, and laid down
its instruments, namely:
An official ideology which is exclusive and tolerates
A command party, which suppresses all dissent.
A police state enforced by a huge security mechanism
accountable to no law or moral value so long as it destroys the
enemies of the regime.
Politicization of the civil and armed institutions of
the State in favor of the partisan policy of the regime and its
The demagogic manipulation of the economy, and a number of economic
Before the 1969 coup, the Sudan had a mixed economy
with a very viable public and private sectors. The public sector
surpluses provided on the average more than 40% of the government
revenue. The private sector provided more than 60% of the country's
exports. The new regime put the public sector under the
administration of political (leftist) cronies, and enlarged it
through measures of nationalization and confiscation. The personnel
who were appointed to administer this huge economic empire were
partisan political appointees who destroyed the viability of the
economy. That phase of the administration of the economy continued
for two years (1969 - 1971).
The second phase
lasted ten years (1972 - 1982). This phase was blessed by the
prevalence of the Peace agreement of 1972. During this phase the
regime embarked upon a policy of economic liberalization. The regime
enjoyed a favorable treatment by the West, and by the Arab Gulf
States, resulting in a huge 8 billion-dollar volume of foreign
development aid. At this phase, the regime’s economic administration
became more pragmatic, and several development schemes, and infra
structure constructions were built. During this phase also, oil was
struck in the Sudan in 1980.
Third Phase (1982-85):
the regime again reverted to doctrinaire manipulation of the
economy. However, this time the policy plunged into the opposite
ideological direction. ISLAMICIST economic polices. By 1982, the
regime’s economic policies and all the foreign economic aid failed
to achieve a sustainable development. Far from it, the value of
Sudanese exports towards the end of the life of the regime fell to
about $ 300 Million; half what it was in the Sixties.
The internal and
external financial balances, which had been in surplus before the
coup, fell into continuous annual deficits between 40% and 45%.
In 1983 the
government changed the Banking act to allow it to escape monetary
discipline and resort to unlimited loans from the banking system and
printing currency. Consequently, the value of the national currency
began its free fall. The Sudanese pound was equal to 330 Cents in
1969. It became 14 Cents in 1985.
Development, which was before the coup dependent on the surplus of
the National Budget, which fell into continuous deficits, became
completely dependent upon foreign aid. Before the coup, Sudan had no
external debt. A sad legacy of the May regime is the external debt,
originally, 8 billion dollars but because of compound interest it
has grown at an average annual one billion dollars so that to-day
(January 1999) it is 20 billion dollars!!
accountability, and the high handed measures which dictatorship
allowed the regime to take opened an entirely new chapter in
corruption in the Sudan. Hitherto, corruption in Sudanese public
affairs was the exception. During the second autocracy it became the
The manipulation of Islam and Islamic legislation as a means of
legitimizing the regime and intimidating its enemies. The first
shameless pioneer in this respect was the PAKISTANI General DIA AL
HAG, but NIMEIRI, who saw the basis of his legitimacy eroded
resorted to it as the first to - do so in the modern history of
Sudan. The regime originally drew some legitimacy from manipulating
socialism. Then it shifted its position, and relied upon National
unity as created by the 1972 Agreement. Between 1972 and 1982,
NIMEIRI squandered that achievement and needed another source. He
observed the internal and external signs of Islamic awakening, and
decided to manipulate Islam for the purpose of stabilizing the
regime. He bequeathed the Sudan a sorry legacy of ISLAMICIST
FIFTH AND LAST
But not least legacy: The civil - war. It is ironic that two
things: the economic performance, and the Peace Agreement, which
were publicized as the MAY regime’s monumental acheivements, should
be negated to leave a most negative economic legacy, and a
catastrophic civil war.
At its inception,
the MAY Regime was ethnicity blind. The entire membership of the
Revolutionary command council was from the NORTH. The regime, on
communist initiative, appointed SAYED JOSEPH GARANG, a leading
communist to take charge of Southern affairs. He issued a
politically conscious nine point Southern policy. Soon after the
issue was put in a back seat until the power struggle between
NIMEIRI and the communist party of Sudan was settled. After the
bloody events of July 1971 several factors helped create conditions
for a peace oriented Southern policy. NIMEIRI needed a substitute
power base. Western powers and their regional allies were eager to
reward NIMEIRI, for his break with communism. The peace negotiations
which took place in ADDIS ABEBA with effective mediation by Emperor
HAILASELASE and the African Council of Churches, made headway and a
peace agreement was signed in 1972. The peace Agreement put an end
to the civil war on the basis of regional self - government for the
South. “After all, the final agreement (1972) when closely examined
is based on the discussions, findings of the legally constituted
regimes before 1969. The resolutions of the Round Table Conference,
the recommendations of the Twelve-Man Committee, and the findings of
the All-Political Parties' Conference, were the basis of the
Between 1980 and 1983, several factors drove NIMEIRI to betray his
peace Agreement and launch the Sudan into a civil war which was much
more dangerous than the civil war which ended in 1972. They are: -
DICTATORSHIP does not really accept devolution of
power. In it, “Power inevitably flows upwards as water inevitably
flows downwards”! NIMEIRI continuously interfered with the powers of
the Southern Executive Council. He influenced the election of its
president. When the council opposed his decision to build the oil
Refinery in Kosti town rather than in Bentu town, he decided that
the council grew too big for its boots. He listened to an interested
Southern party, General JOSEPH LAGU and contravened the agreement by
a high handed decree to divide the South into three regions.
NIMEIRI`S Western orientation after 1971 helped
reach the agreement of 1972. However, his Western alignment went
further to involvement with Western strategies in North Africa and
the Red Sea. In 1982, an anti- Western, pro- Eastern alliance was
singed in ADEN, bringing together LIBYA, ETHIOPIA and SOUTHERN
YEMEN. This alliance provided a regional and international patron
for resistance to the MAY regime.
NIMEIRI’s great disservice to the modern Sudan is the
ideo- cultural coup, which he staged in September 1983. Although
that ideo- cultural coup actually came after the SPLM/A led civil
war, it provided the SPLM/A with added justification for resuming
the war. The gulf between the ANYANYA war, which was terminated by
the 1972 Agreement, and the SPLM/A war which was a direct product of
the catastrophic policies of the first totalitarianism in The Sudan
In the ANYANYA war, the numbers of troops never
exceeded 3000. They never captured a command post or town. They
didn’t disrupt rail, road, and river transport. As Prime Minister, I
toured the whole South in 1966 using rail, road, boat and aircraft
without any hindrance. They had no open regional, nor international
support. They had no more than light arms.
The SPLA war amassed troops in tens of thousands.
Their training and equipment is sophisticated. From the very
beginning, it captured posts and towns, put an end to the
development schemes, and disrupted road, river, rail and air
transport. Nimeiri’s ill-advised flirtations with cold- war
alliances provided it with invaluable regional and international
Nimeiri’s regime capitalized on the homework of the second
democratic reign in Sudan, and on the windfall of his devastation of
the communists of Sudan, to end a limited insurrection in 1972. His
despotic regime betrayed the country, squandered the peace
opportunity, and bequeathed the Sudan a civil war which put its
survival as a state at stake!.
decline and fall of the MAY regime in April 1985 came
about as follows:
bloody persecution of the ANSAR after the massacre at ABA ISLAND and
WADNUBAWI in March 1970 motivated thousands of ANSAR to immigrate to
Ethiopia along the route taken by the IMAM AL HADI in MARCH 1970.
Several political leaders have fled the country and formed an
opposition NATIONAL FRONT in exile, for example, SHARIF HUSSEIN AL
HINDI (the man who after death of SAYED ISMAEL AL AZHARI in 1969,
became the de facto leader of the D.U.P), Dr. OMAR NUR AL DAYEM, who
was by that time, the second man in the UMMA party leadership, and
SAYED OSMAN KHALID, the external representative of the ISLAMIC
CHARTER FRONT. In 1972, I was still in detention. From there I sent
a message to Dr. OMAR to explore the possibilities of LIBYAN
cooperation with us. That contact succeeded, and Libya agreed to
support the National Front, and provided it with finance, arms and
training. I was released from detention in May 1973 as a direct
result of the adoption of a new CONSTITUTION, to constitutionalize
the ADDIS ABEBA agreement of the 1972. Between my release in May
1973, and September 1973, I had, along with others, organized the
SEPTEMBER (SHABAN) uprising. The May regime suppressed it in a very
cruel way, and shut down all the relative freedoms it tolerated
after its enactment of the NEW CONSTITUTION. To narrow the basis of
the uprising, the regime blamed it on the ISLAMIC CHARTER FRONT.
However, later in the year, in December 1973, I was arrested again.
I was released on April 1974 and was allowed to leave the country
ostensibly for medical reasons. In exile we reorganized the NATIONAL
FRONT, organized our supporters into an efficient fighting force,
mainly ANSAR freedom fighters, with some Islamic Charter Front's
freedom fighters. In July 1976, we staged an armed uprising, which
nearly toppled the regime. NIMEIRI responded with a policy of brutal
suppression. When the dust settled, he realized that the opposition
had teeth and political abilities. He offered National
Reconciliation through a third party. Initially, the NATIONAL FRONT
unanimously accepted national reconciliation. In July 1977, we
agreed on terms of National Reconciliation. Just as in the case of
the ADDIS ABEBA agreement of 1972, NIMEIRI had no real intention of
devolving power. He wanted NATIONAL RECONCILIATION to enhance the
legitimacy of his government. After about a year, we discovered that
to our dismay. However, two aspects of the National Reconciliation
process remained, namely, the safe return to Sudan of a great number
of opposition leaders from exile. Secondly, the provision of a
greater margin of political freedom which resulted in holding
relatively free trade unionist elections, especially among the
professionals (teachers, doctors, engineers, clerks, bankers and so
on), and among the students of higher education.
failure of the economic policies of the regime resulted in a
terrible rise in inflation. On the average, prices rose 1000%
between 1970 and 1980. Inevitably, this drove the newly constituted
professional trade unions into enhanced trade unionist activity.
However, the first significant clash between the regime and a
professional body, was with the judiciary. NIMEIRI’s so called
“legislative revolution” of September 1983, started as a means of
putting the judiciary in the defensive.
newly constituted students’ unions, especially that of OMDURMAN
ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY, after a period of mobilization, took to the
street. They heralded the April 1985 uprising. The professional
Trade unions, particularly the University teachers, the medical
doctors, the engineers, the lawyers, the cashiers, began
demonstrating against the regime. The political parties,
particularly the UMMA, orchestrated the whole activity, joined with
the demonstrations, openly called for the downfall of the regime,
provided the movement with the text of the NATIONAL LIBERATION
CHARTER, and openly appealed to the armed forces to support the
popular demands, topple the May regime, and pave the way for
democracy in Sudan. On the 6th April 1985, the Armed
Forces of the Sudan as a whole staged a coup and opened the way for
the third Democracy after a year’s transition period.
LEGACY OF THE SECOND TOTALITARIAN (THIRD AUTOCRACY)
The most important
doorstep to the legacy of the “SALVATION” regime, established by the
30th June 1989 coup d’etat, is its ISLAMICIST program.
Moslems consider Islam as the Third and last revelation in the trail
of IBRAHIM. The Quran recognized other religions in the ABRAHAMIC
tradition as peoples of scriptures. The Quran recognized Human worth
as such. Recognition of Human worth as such, and religious
plurality, established the basic tolerance of ISLAM, revelation and
reason complement each other. That argued for a theo- rationalism,
or theo-humanism. Consequently, it was possible for Moslem thinkers
and sages, without any ecclesiastical authority, to develop various
Moslem schools of thought through KALAM (Theosophy). Moslem
philosophers developed the schools of Greek philosophy, and
elaborated idea- systems to reconcile the Truths of Revelation and
Reason. Moslem mystics (SUFIS) acquainted themselves of the
Pantheistic concepts of Eastern -particularly Indian- religious
insights, and injected them into the ISLAMIC worldview. At another
level, Moslem theologians, applied the injunctions of the holy texts
to social reality, and elaborated numerous schools of Islamic
jurisprudence. Islamic civilization opened two- way traffic
influencing other world civilizations, and being influenced by them.
However, in three
aspects: the system of government, the economy, and foreign
relations, Islamic practice adapted, to a large extent, the systems
elaborated by other civilizations.
The most prevalent
system of government after a short initial period, became a system
of Imperial Royalty. The economic system became one of feudo-
were cold war relations with contemporary Empires. Before this
pragmatism prevailed, there were many idealist voices, which
protested against it. ABU ZAR ALGEFARI, was alarmed at the emergence
of feudo- capitalism, and loudly protested. AL KHAWARIJ (the rebels)
were alarmed that politics were getting out of divine control. Their
view of Islam was theocratic.
There is no
particular system of government, nor system of economy in ISLAM.
There are certain ISLAMIC political principles - for example,
participation (SHURA), justice and so on- and Islamic economic
principles – for example, the duty of developing production and fair
distribution- to guide the system which Islamic society adopts.
Neglect of this guidance fueled the continuous protests of reformers
At the beginning of
the 20th century, Moslem anxiety about the political
predicament of Moslems was renewed. The Caliphate, however
imperfect, was perceived as a guardian. It was abolished in 1924.
ABU AL ALA ALMAWDUDI of INDIA was particularly anxious about Moslems
being overwhelmed by HINDUISM in INDIA. He developed an intellectual
shield according to which, belief in God means belief in His
OMNIPOTENCE, which in the political sense translates into
SOVREIGNTY. Power, legislation, et al, belongs to God alone.
Believers in this cause are the party of God. Others are the party
of SATAN. In Egypt, the Moslem Brotherhood movement came into
conflict with the revolutionary authority of president GAMAL ABDAL
NASSER. Twice it was subjected to decisive suppression. Some of its
leaders, notably USTAZ SAYED QUTB, under the bitter and frustrating
circumstances of coercion, developed a radical protest attitude, and
leaned heavily on MAWDUDI’S ideas.
In IRAN, Shah Rida
Khan and his son Mohammad, applied a radical secularist program. The
Shia religious establishment in Iran was relatively autonomous. They
organized resistance to the SHAH’S policies, developing the radical
ISLAMIC ideology of IMAM KHOMAINI.
The three MAWDUDI,
QUTB and KHOMAINI, became the authentic sources of militant Islamic
theocratic ideology. Henceforth, Islamic protest movements drew
their ideology from these sources. The NATIONAL ISLAMIC FRONT in
Sudan, during its formative period, drew its inspiration from
moderate Moslem brotherhood sources, from communist example in
organization of modern social forces, and even from the UMMA party
in developing an economic branch to support the political activity
and popular pressure tactics to influence political decisions. That
pragmatism served it very well indeed. It developed into a
well-organized, moderate and successful political organization.
Gradually, it was influenced by the radicalization of ISLAMIC
protest movements, which pervaded the Moslem immigrant communities
in the West. That radicalization fueled their coup making and
colored the political program of the
REGIME, which they established. They demanded the Moslems of Sudan
to surrender to their Partisan program, or be described as enemies
of God and suppressed. Non Moslems had to accept the new regime and
its ISLAMICIST policies, or be the targets of JIHAD.
CULTURE OF VIOLENCE
To sustain the
military program, the National armed forces were manipulated to
become party to the new ideology. Other para-military organizations
like the Popular Defense Force were organized. The number of
military and paramilitary organizations became seven. Ten tribal
militias supported them. The civil war escalated, and became
bitterer in terms of the injected religious element.
To carry out the
suppression of the civilian population, the regime manipulated the
National Police Force, and established another five police and
security organizations. This militarization of the Sudan moved the
opposition to the regime to respond in kind. They took up arms to
form with the SPLA ten more military groups.
The second most
important legacy of the
regime is the establishment of the culture of violence in the Sudan
in an unprecedented scale.
The third legacy, is
that of the association of the Sudan with international terrorism. I
define terrorism as the indiscriminate use of violence against a
legitimate political authority. The radical ISLAMICIST ideology led
to a mushroom growth of radical protest movements. They were
organized into national, regional, and international networks, with
well-planned and orchestrated targets. The Sudan became a nerve
center for many such groups. The Sudanese Passports were issued to
many aliens to give them cover and travel facilities, and Sudanese
nationals were involved in many terrorist events, all over the
The fourth legacy of
regime is, in the tradition of the
the establishment of the second totalitarian state in the modern
Sudan. It reproduced the totalitarian state with all the vital
criteria, namely, an official ideology, a command party, a police
state, and so on. However, there are marked differences: The first
was a One- Man rule, the second was a hydra headed oligarchy. The
first applied a more professional oppression; the second applied a
vindictive oppression. The first was ambivalent about its ideology.
The second more single-minded.
The fifth legacy of
disservice to the Sudan is the destruction of the National economy:
Agricultural and industrial production fell to very
low levels compared to their levels during the preceding democratic
regime (1986-89), a published comparative study drawing from
officially published data showed how agricultural and industrial
production in the four years of democracy exeeded by far production
in the first four years of the
On the average, exports during the
regime fell to half their value, on the average, during the
The internal and external financial balances have
sustained unprecedented deficits, for example, in the last
democratic budget (1988/89), the internal budget deficit was one
billion pounds, in the last
budget (1997/98), the budget deficit was 300 billion pounds. The
external deficit in 1988/89 was $700 million. The external deficit
97/98 was $2000 millions plus.
During the democratic period, external balance of
payments support was $800 million per annum, and the total
development aid amounted to $3.5 billion. All such external
assistance stopped during the
regime. However, humanitarian external aid increased.
To bridge its huge internal budget deficits, the
regime resorted to borrowing from the Banking system, and to
printing money on an unprecedented scale. Consequently, the volume
of money, which was 17 billion pounds in 1989, became a staggering
1600 billion pounds in 1998. To bridge the gap in the external
balance, the regime resorted to buying dollars from the free market.
Consequently, the price of the dollar shot up from 14 pounds in 1989
to 2400 pounds in 1998. The staggering volume of money, and the low
value of the national currency, has translated into staggering
inflation. Prices have shot up, on the average, during the last
decade to 4000%. However, incomes have risen, on the average, at the
same period, a modest 500%. As a result, living conditions in the
Sudan have become intolerable. The social consequences have been
tragic, namely, an unprecedented level of corruption, the collapse
of moral values, a 95% of the population living below the poverty
level, and an unprecedented exodus out of the Sudan into the four
corners of the world. Sudanese nationals have fled the Sudan in huge
numbers to find refuge from the oppression of the Police State, and
the impoverished economy.
Since there are no budget surpluses, and no external
development aid, economic development in the Sudan has stopped. The
external debt legacy from the MAY regime has continued to rise
through accumulated interests and arears to become $20 billion.
the word go, the NIF coup d’etat, and the regime it set up used
deception on a systematic basis. The coup makers exploited the
briefing made by the military high command in association with the
February 1989 Memorandum, to assume that their coup was a take over
by the high command of the armed forces. They rounded up all
political party leaders including some NIF leaders to give the
impression that it was a National and not partisan coup. The coup
makers addressed the Nation in their first proclamation in secular
wordily terms, without any mention of the real agenda of the coup.
The regime created confusion about its leadership so that until to
day, people argue about the nature of its decision making. The
regime relied so heavily on deception, and camouflage, that whatever
it declares is doubted.
Islamic context, it is so important to be specific about who’s who?.
Therefore, the leader enters into direct personal “contract”: “BIA”
with the people. The NIF tactics are confusing about who’s who.
continuous rise of ambivalence and deception reduced the credibility
of the NIF regime to naught.
THE SOUTHERN POLICY
The last but not
least legacy of the
regime, is its Southern Policy. The catastrophic legacy of the
Southern Policy may be summerized in five points.
aborted an ongoing peace process, which had almost arrived.
espoused a narrowly defined ideo- cultural identity for the Sudan as
an Islamic Arab country, and so widened and deepened the extent of
resistance to an unprecedented degree.
injected a religious element in the civil- war and so it enhanced
the war and increased its bitterness and violence. The JIHAD policy
polerized Sudanese society, and boiled over regionally to Sudan`s
neighbors in terms of awakening and exploiting the existing
religious differences inside their territories.
inherent self - righteousness, and inherent inability to appreciate
and so engage in meaningful dialogue, turned all the exchanges it
had with others into dialogues of the deaf.
regime entered the peace negotiations with the SPLM/A through third
party mediation (President J. CARTER) as a public relations
exercise. They had no peace policy, and the delegates they sent made
contradictory interventions. Then the regime’s
delegations to the subsequent negotiations consisted in trying to
persuade the other side to accept the NIF program for the South.
After the CARTER- mediated negotiations, which came to naught, three
fruitless lots of negotiations, mediated by the NIGERIAN Government,
were held at ABOUJA.
Then in 1993, the
Khartoum regime encouraged its IGAD partners to mediate. Initially,
the IGAD sponsored negotiations between the Sudanese conflicting
parties assumed their usual fruitless pattern.
In 1994, the IGAD
sponsors took a positive step, and invited the two parties to agree
upon a Declaration of Principles (D. O. P). The declaration’s
six points stated that a united multi-cultural, multi-religious,
democratic, secular, Sudan be agreed by both parties. Failing that,
the South should be offered self-determination. The SPLM/A promptly
accepted the D.O.P. The NIF regime as promptly rejected it.