Originally posted January 11th 2010
Sudan has seen many political leaders, ideologue, religious leaders, but none has reached the epic of Dr. Hassan Abdallah Al Turabi. Though never officially became the president of
Sudan, his influence on the political life of Sudanese and Sudan has been intricately documented. From his days as the legal and religious mind for the late President Numeiri to his unrelenting effort at dismantling the Addis Ababa Agreement and the introduction of Shari ‘a Law (1983) into Sudan’s Jurisprudence, Sudan has never officially been at peace with itself.
Turabi singlehandedly mobilized South Sudanese to taking up arms to fight once more for
their liberation from the controlling influence of the North, with the abrogation of the Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972. His influence on Numeiri and political power in the North during the reconciliation of Northern Political Parties with the May regime at the end of 1970s and early 1980s was pronounced. He was able to gain the trust of Numeiri and the May Regime establishment in completely gutting the only credible political arrangement between South and the Political elite in the North. While being the brain child behind dismantling of the Addis Ababa Agreement, he also worked to erode the political monopoly of the May Regime in Sudanese political life for over a decade. He was able to infiltrate the legal and political system in Sudan and inculcate it with young
and bright Islamists who believed in his political ideology, a group that he would later use to fulfill his political dream in 1989 coup that broight Al Bashir to power, under the banner of National Salvation.
With the collapse of the May Regime and peaceful overthrow of Numeiri from power, Turabi was able again to rebrand himself as a different type of political leader that
is able to win the hearts and minds of Sudanese through democratic means. To his
credit, he was able to gain credible seats in Sudan’s Second Democratically elected parliament.
However, being disappointed with the slow pace of political and ideological change and the influence that the SPLM/A has exerted in the latter part of the 1980s, something that he did not anticipate, Turabi reverted to his old self. Given his knowledge, confidence and organizational capabilities, he organized one of the boldest political moves in Sudan’s history—overthrowing a democratically elected government in which he was a part off, in 1989. Though not overtly known at the time, his leadership quality and religious appeal, Turabi was able to control all the institutions of government in Sudan, something that he has been working on since his time as the Minister of Justice.
In the decade that he was the spiritual leader and the political ideologue of the NIF and military regime in Sudan, Turabi declared Jihad on the people of Southern Sudan and in the course, helped the death of two and half million innocent civilians.
His falling out with the current regime in Sudan can be attributed to two main forces: his eagerness to take control over the political system in Sudan and the increasing pressure from International community since 1996 for Sudan/regime to change its political course or continue to face greater international scrutiny on its terrorist’s links.
We all know the result of the political shift in Sudan between the religious (fatalists) and military (rationalists) wings of the National Islamic Front. The rationalists’ wing flanked by the most astute political advisors/thinkers Sudan has ever seen opted on prolonging the life of the regime by conceding to the international pressures, a process that took some time to complete, which ended in 1999, with the ousting of Turabi from the Party. This process led to the renaming of the party to National Congress Party, instead of the notoriously hated name, the National Islamic Front.
As we all know, Turabi is a religious as well as political leader that is rarely counted
out. In his “last kick at the can,” Turabi has reincarnated his political life with the formation of Popular Congress Party or PCP. In this last political exposé, Turabi is counting on his arch enemy, the SPLM to resurrect him from political death. The “Juba Declaration/Conference,” not the one that we were connived out of our political identity (1947) but the one of 2009, Turabi wanted Southern Sudanese to wilfully abrogate the CPA, just like in 1983. However, this time the tide is much different, the SPLM is in control and not the Northern Political elites. However, Turabi’s political stratagem cannot be discounted, no matter how farfetched it maybe, just because of his experience in Sudanese politics and organizational capabilities.
Now, this brings me to Turabi’s last attempt at controlling political discourse in Sudan,
before the end of the interim period of the post conflict in Sudan, by declaring his party’s candidate for presidency of Sudan in the upcoming national election to be a Southerner, Islamist and a unionist to boot. This is a bold political move on his part, but what is the role of Southern Sudanese in deciding the fate of this political dream? Can we in the South trust this political farce or take it as a genuine political gesture from Popular Congress Party (PCP) that the post national election in April 2010 would be different for Southerners?
But, can there be a united Sudan with Shari’a? And if so, would it be a fair state the Southern Sudanese can live and have equal rights and equal access to power and resources? All of these questions are equally important and even much more important than having a Southern Sudanese president.
However, Turabi is counting on the history political short sightedness in Southern Sudan
by selling Southern Sudanese an empty dream, of a united Sudan under the leadership of Southerner that his political ideas has never been tested, and his loyalty to the cause is short on details and ample on dreams.
Finally, when we look at the history of Turabi’s political journey, his cunningness and
incredible timing of unleashing arsenals of political trickery never ceases to amaze, not only to the ardent political watchers of Sudan, but also amateurs alike. So, his “last kick at the can” is but an attempt at salvaging the broken ship from sinking, while knowing well the reasons behind the demise of the Sudan as a mosaic of different cultures that he has
worked hard to deny till now.