Archive: March, 1996

The Federal Option

Democratization and State-Building in Africa:
The Federal Option in the Sudanese Experience


Mohamed Beshir Hamid


An Arabic translation of this study was presented to the conference on Problems of Democratization in the Arab World (اشكاليات التحول الديمقراطى فى الوطن العربى) Cairo, Egypt, 2-3 March 1996. The writer is currently updating and expanding the Arabic version to cover the period from 1995 to the present as a book project.

Download the full paper PDF [29 pages]

As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again to-day.
I wish, I wish he’d stay away.

Hughes Mearns, The Psychoed





Democratization in Africa is a concern that dates back to, and was implicit in, the nationalist struggle for independence. But the parliamentary system inherited from the colonial period failed to live up to the democratic ideals. The failure was due partly to the colonial legacy and partly to the unresolved contradictions between the imperatives of democracy and the exigencies of development. “What emerged from the debris of the parliamentary model were varied forms of personal rule that achieved degrees of success, with varied degrees of coercion. Where there was success, however, it was precarious, temporary and crippled by its class and ethnic limitations; where there was failure, it was egregious, massive and tragic”.


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