Archive: Africa Contemporary Record

1987-1988: The Never-Ending Crisis

AFRICA
CONTEMPORARY
RECORD

Volume 12
1987-1988

Annual Survey and Documents
Sudan Chapter
Mohamed Beshir Hamid

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The Never-Ending Crisis

Events in Sudan during 1987-88 were like a slow motion replay not only of the political scene in 1986-87 but, more ominously, of the situation that had prevailed more than 20 years earlier between 1965 and 1969.1 The similarities were indeed striking, even to the prevailing feeling of frustration over the ongoing crises and the constant sense of impending disaster. The unfolding events were almost identical: the strained relationship of the Coalition Governments of the Umma Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP); the ineffectiveness of the Constituent Assembly as a national forum; the constant political Pickering between Government and Opposition; the lack of direction and purpose in foreign policy; and the economic malaise that had practically crippled the country. In the background of these daunting problems and, indeed, overshadowing them all, is the running sore in the south that seems to be inexorably seeping to the north, as though it is enacting a bizarre self-fulfilling nightmare.

In this almost surrealistic atmosphere ‘the long-running, downward spiral of politics threatens to do permanent damage to political life and institutions in the country’2.
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1983-84: Sharia in the North, Anya Nya in the South

AFRICA
CONTEMPORARY
RECORD

Volume 15
1983-1984

Annual Survey and Documents
Sudan Chapter
Mohamed Beshir Hamid

 

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Sudan: Sharia in the North, Anya Nya in the South

 

The Sudan continued during 1983/84 to drift deeper into political instability and economic decline that seemed to evolve with the inevitability of some malevolent natural force.1 Indeed. in more than one sense, the country was moving backwards on more than one front. The arbitrary and controversial policy decisions to re-divide Southern Sudan into three separate regions and to adopt the Islamic shari’a code were unnecessarily divisive and disruptive within the existing economic and political context. The high-handed way in which these decisions were imposed on a population increasingly wary of the politics of despair and rhetoric, only served to reawaken the forces of division between the North and South and to strain relations within each region. The tensions and discontent in Southern Sudan spilled over into wide-scale violent confrontation. Read more

1981-82: The Martial Arts of Survival

AFRICA
CONTEMPORARY
RECORD

Volume 12
1981-1982

Annual Survey and Documents
Sudan Chapter
Mohamed Beshir Hamid

Download the FULL 1981-1982 record as PDF

The Martial Arts of Survival

The one tangible and incredible achievement by President Ja’far Muhammad Numeiry during 1981/82 was the fact that he managed to survive.1 It was not just simply the question of surviving the unraveling of the country’s virtually bankrupt economy, the explosive tensions between the North and South regions and discord in the latter, the politically risky posture of an unabashedly pro-American foreign policy, and the wave of popular discontent that seemed to grip all levels of Sudanese society; Numeiry’s survival was all the more remarkable in that almost all these crises were largely self-inflicted.

The adoption of the stringent austerity measures demanded by the IMF was tantamount to an act of political hara-kiri. Ntimeiry’s proposal to redivide Southern Sudan into three regions, and his constitutionally questionable interventions in Southern politics had the undesirable effect of arousing Southern suspicions and of eroding his important power base there. His strident denunciations of Libya and the Soviet Union were almost an invitation to retaliation and subversion from his pro-Soviet neighbours and, at home fed a latent anti-American and anti-Egyptian backlash. In the face of the groundswell of protest to his policies, President Numeiry proceeded to effect the amazing feat of demolishing his entire regime, which he blamed for all the ills afflicting the country- and, then, rising phoenix-like from the ashes to proclaim his own political immortality.
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1980-81: A Year of Wavering Indecision

AFRICA
CONTEMPORARY
RECORD

Volume 13
1980-1981

Annual Survey and Documents
Sudan Chapter
Mohamed Beshir Hamid

 

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Sudan: A Year of Wavering Indecision

 

Only two new developments of significance occurred during 1980: the dramatic attempt at rapprochement with Ethiopia, and the inauguration of regional government as a step towards administrative devolution. Controversy continued over the issue of ‘national reconciliation’, with the former opposition leader, Sadiq aI-Mahdi, still calling for radical changes in the political system, and Numeiry’s hard-line supporters in the Sudanese Socialist Union (SSU) accusing the former opposition of using public forums for ends contrary to their own revolutionary goals. Read more

1979-80: Still Waiting for National Reconciliation

AFRICA
CONTEMPORARY
RECORD

Volume 12
1979-1980

Annual Survey and Documents
Sudan Chapter
Mohamed Beshir Hamid

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Sudan: Still Waiting for National Reconciliation

Events in ·Sudan during 1979 had a distinct aura of déjà vu: domestic policy followed a familiar pattern — alternating between reconciliation and estrangement, great expectations and grave disappointments, popular participation and public apathy, potential stability and recurring crises, the promise of economic salvation and economic deterioration.1 I Even more striking was the replication of this domestic pattern in Sudan’s external relations: the fluctuating fortunes in the attempts at national reconciliation between President Numeiry and former leaders of the National Front opposition were accompanied by ups and downs in Sudan’s relations with its neighbours. Read more

1978-79: Economic and Foreign Policy Dilemmas

AFRICA
CONTEMPORARY
RECORD

Volume 11
1978-1979

Annual Survey and Documents
Sudan Chapter
Mohamed Beshir Hamid

 

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Sudan: Economic and Foreign Policy Dilemmas

 

The Sudan was preoccupied with three major concerns in 1978: promotion of ‘national reconciliation,’ threats to the region’s security arising from developments in the Horn of Africa, and a desperate economic situation. After a promising start, the negotiations to create a new sense of political unity between the ruling Sudanese Socialist Union (SSU) and the outlawed opposition parties ran into serious difficulties in mid-year. The future of President Ja’afar Numeiry’s policy of national reconciliation thus remained uncertain in early 1979. Nor was there any improvement in the Sudan’s security position. The growing Soviet/Cuban involvement in Ethiopia was a cause of major concern for the regime, more particularly because of the problems raised by the unresolved conflict over Eritrea, with the number of Eritrean and other Ethiopian refugees in Sudan rising to several hundred thousand. Read more

1977-78 Attempts at National Reconciliation

AFRICA
CONTEMPORARY
RECORD

Volume 10
1977-1978

Annual Survey and Documents
Sudan Chapter
Mohamed Beshir Hamid

 

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Sudan: Attempts at National Reconciliation

 

By no means uncharacteristically for the Sudan, 1977, produced a number of quite unexpected developments-notably the return of Said al·Sadiq al-Mahdi, the former Prime Minister and leader of the Ansari Muslims, from exile in London. Then, when everything seemed to be set fair for a return to national reconciliation and stability, a major political upset occurred in the elections in the Southern Sudan in February 1978, which brought the downfall of Abel Alier’s government there. While the new government is unlikely to change its relations towards the North, there were further’ unexpected developments in Khartoum. The early honeymoon with Sadiq had not gone as well as hoped, and he returned to London for a time in February 1979, but went back to Khartoum after a month. Read more

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