By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak
April 16th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – The news headline in the second week of April 2019, is dominated by popular uprising in Sudan, which resulted into the downfall of Omar Hassan Al Bashir who came to power through the similar military coup in 1989. Sudan is recognized as an authoritarian or totalitarian nation, which military regime administrations, are toppled through either popular demand demonstrations or military coups. Before one can focus lengthily on regime change styles in Sudan, it is worthwhile to denote that, the undergoing change that is manifested itself in Sudan, does not come as a surprise to many people, given that, coup d’état has been the trend of changing authoritarian administrations in Sudan since the country became a nation in 1956.
Initially, on Thursday April 11, 2019, Awad Ibn Auf, a military general under Omar Hassan Al Bashir, announced that, he ousted his boss and sided with Sudanese civilians who denounced Omar El Bashir leadership since December 2018 following the rising of prices on breads or gas. Then, on Friday April 12, 2019, Auf reappeared on television to withdraw his bet to lead the nation after the downfall of El Bashir. Instead, he named Lt Gen-Abdel Fattah Abderahman as his successor given protesters’ refusal to leave streets, citing the closeness of Gen-Auf to President Omar Hassan El Bashir. The Sudan professionals Association, which spearheaded the demonstration last year, demanded a transition to civilian rule before they can go home.
However, it seems like Abdelrahman will be accepted by protesters given his clear record among most Sudanese high ranking generals. In reality, protesters are correct in their demand for the civilian transitional government, for the reason that, the country has never enjoy civilian ruling except few rare occasions. It is one’s hope the post-Al Bashir era, will witness an amazing flourishing change to democratic process. Ideally, democratic is a system of governance that grantee human rights and aspiration of the citizens of any nation. It grantee all sort of the freedoms such as freedom of speech, assembly, and handling of free and fair elections. It is the only system of government well suited with ordinary people way of life. One’s purpose of writing this article is to highlight authoritarian and totalitarian ways of relinquish powers in Sudan since its inception in 1956 to present.
Historically, Sudan gained her independence from British and Egyptian on January 1, 1956. The leaders of the country formed the nation with Prime Minister Azhari as the head of the State. The country achieved its independent without the agreement of its rival political parties on the form of a permanent guidance constitution. Instead, the assembly adopted a document known as the “Transitional Constitution”, which replaced the governor general a position previously adapted from then British rulers, as the head of the state; with a five-member supreme commission, who were elected by the House of Representatives and allocate executive power to prime minister, who was nominated by the House of Representatives and confirmed in office by the Supreme Commission.
Although Sudan achieved its independent without conflict, the country inherited many problems from condominium government, which the newly formed administration will have to be working hard to address. Shortly after assuming power, Azhari regime introduced plans, to expand its control all over the country. Among these urgent plans were the country’s education, economic, and transportation sectors. In order to achieve these goals, an immediate assistance was required from foreign countries. The first request was directed to the United States of America and the U.S responded generously to provide aid assistance that could help reduce Sudan’s excessive reliance on a one crop the (cotton) for economy, and would facilitate the development of the country’s transportation and communication infrastructure.
As early as February 1956, Prime Minister Azhari formed a coalition government. In that formation, Azhari has alienated the Khatmiyyah party, in which Azhari himself was a member. His supporters felt neglected and some of the group key members namely, Muhammad Nur al-din, Ali Abd al Rahman and Mamad Tawfiq switched their support in the parliament votes. Their interest was increasingly shifted to a demand of secular government policies, which resulted, into the election of these important members, who later decided to form a new party called, “People’s Democratic Party (PDP)” under the leadership of Al Mirghani. There, the old rival Umma approach PDP to combined in the parliament in bringing down Al Azhari government. Due to the support from the two parties and with the backing from the Ansar and the Khatmiyyah, Azhari was ousted out of power and Abdallah Khalil emerged as the new prime minister and begins putting together a coalition government.
However, major issues had very soon confronted Khalil’s coalition government. Among these issues were include, winning an agreement on a permanent constitution, stabilizing the south, encouraging economic development, and improving relationship with Egypt. Hence, the coalition between Umma and PDP hampered the government’s ability to progress on these matters. Umma on its viewpoint wanted the proposed constitution to institute a presidential form of government on the assumption that Abdi Rahman Al Mahdi would be elected the first president of the Sudan. These viewpoints were unacceptable to PDP, whose philosophy reflects Arab nationalism. They wanted the constitution to recognized Ali Al-Mirghani to be the first president instead of Abdi Rahman Al Mahdi.
Despite these differences, the coalition between UMMA and PDP did not last long, given unwillingness on both parties to find common solution. However, after the adjournment of the parliament, the two parties promised to maintain a common ground or unity of purpose toward upcoming 1958 elections. During this election, UMMA and PDP coalition won majority seats against NUP. After the new parliament was convened, Khalil again formed an UMMA and PDP coalition government. Unfortunately, factionalism, corruption, and vote fraud dominated parliamentary deliberations at a time when the country needed decisive action with regard to the proposed constitution and the future of the south. As the result, the UMMA and PDP coalition failed to exercise effective leadership.
Another pressing issue at the time was that, in March 1958, Khalil signed a technical assistance agreement with the United States. When he presented the pact to the parliament for ratification, He discovered that the NUP wanted to use the issue as a tool to defeat the UMMA and PDP coalition. Many PDP officials opposed the agreement. Nevertheless, the UMMA, with the support of some PDP and southern delegates, managed to obtain approval of the agreement.
Shortly thereafter, factionalism and bribery in the parliament, coupled with the government’s inability to resolve Sudan many social, political, and economic problems emerged.Specific complaints were including the administration decision to sell cotton at a price above world market prices, which resulted in low sales of the cotton. This economy downturn grew into popular discontent and caused many anti-government demonstrations in Khartoum. Egypt also criticized Khalil and suggested that it might support a coup against his government.
In the streets of Khartoum, reports were circulated that the UMMA and the NUP were planning an agreement on a new coalition that would exclude the PDP and Khalil. Khalil began to seek new allies who can help him maintain the power. However, he was surrounded by unsolvable problems such as, Egyptian threat, economic deterioration, and the question of Southern Sudan; all these matters made it harder for him to stay on. The only alternative remain for him was to allow the army to take over.
The first military government
On November 17, 1958, the day parliament was to convened again, a military coup occurred, prime minister Khalil, himself a retired army general, planned the preemptive coup in conjunction with leading UMMA members and the army’s two senior generals, Ibrahim Abboud and Ahmad Abdal Wahab, who became leaders of the military regime. Both leaders were from different army groups, Abbud belong to Khatmiyyah and Abdal Wahab was a member of the Ansar, which was the strongest between the two groups. Abboud right away assumed the overall leadership.
Immediately, Abboud dissolved the parliament and pledged to resolve all disputes with Egypt, which include the long-standing problem of the status of the Nile water. He began to abandon pervious government unrealistic policies regarding the country economy and began to appoint a constitutional commission, headed by the chief justice, to draft a permanent constitution. The group started to design a system with all power invested in one person’s hand. Every politician was sideline or placed under house arrest in his military regime.
Furthermore, Abboud decided to hand the country over to the supreme council of the armed forces, consisting of twelve senior officers. Parliament as mentioned was abolished, the transitional constitution suspended, and a state of emergency was declared. Soon, Abbud became the prime minister, shortly thereafter, a president, and a minister of defense. Like many other Sudanese, Abbud was deeply sadden by the economic downturn and convinced that the time has come for the military to restore political and economic stability for the nation.
His regime began fixing the country and was more concerned about making the country governable by introducing radical economic and social changes. Although the country accepted the military dictatorship, the army, as a whole did not agree with the kind of ruling Abbud’s regime was providing. Therefore, during the first year of army rule, factionalism within the army arose, struggling for the control of the supreme council.
Two high ranking brigadiers namely Muhyi al-din Ahmad Abdallah and Abd Al Rahim Shannan who were commanding the Eastern and northern military zones organize a march to Khartoum and arrest general Wahab and two other junior officers of the supreme council. The two brigadiers conspired to overthrow the government on March 2, 1959; and express a number of demands, which the council agree to consider. After the agreement, they decided to release the entire detainee and withdrew from the city.
Ironically, as soon as the troop withdrew, speculations began to circulate, that the regime is taking some action against these two commanders, who plan the incident. Both commanders responded by demanding a resignation. Before that took place, general Abbud decided to form a ten-member council, which includes the two who mutinied. In addition, the two commanders’ number one enemy Abdi al-Wahab retains his position in the council but shortly was relieved from his duty after two months.
After Wahab was relieved, soldiers from Eastern military base plan to surround the city. When asked, the soldier responded by saying, “they receive a telegram message from the army headquarters in Khartoum that they are needed in the city on May 22, 1959”. After the troops were ordered to go back to their barracks, an investigation was carried out, which resulted into the arrest of two commanders now council members. They were accused of inciting a mutiny and openly tried before the court martial and sentenced to death. However, that sentence and all charges were later reduced to life in prison. The rest who had the knowledge about the plot to overthrow the government were dismissed from both council and the army.
Moreover, in November of 1959, a second coup attempt was organized again. Colonel Ali Hamid organized a mutiny of the more radical junior officers who were supported by a battalion at the infantry school in Omdurman. Very quickly, the uprising was suppressed. The officers had tried publicly and condemn to death by hanging, which deeply shock the Sudanese who did not been accustomed to such a harsh punishment, since general Abbud seized and maintained the power in bloodless coup. All these desultory struggles by the armed forces, ended without success to their desire of overthrowing the government.
Base on the above army action, one would have to conclude that, uneasy stability returned to the country, due to the fact that, the regime still unsure about the support it has in the army. However, Hamid incident was the last threat to Abbud government, the army never threatened the regime again. Despite the Abbud regime’s early success, the regime benefited during its first year in office from successful marketing of cotton crop. Previously, the parliament had to sell the cotton crop at fixed price. Abbud government reverses the trend of the fixed price, which made it possible for him to sale all the Sudanese cotton and gives the country the surplus revenue needed to feed the nation. He also profited from the settlement of the Nile waters disputed with Egypt, plus an improvement of the relations between the two countries.
By 1960, the military regime appeared secure. The threat of a counterrevolution by the army disappeared and Sudan appear to be a progressive authoritarian government, if not because of the problem of the southern Sudan. In all the problems Abbud’s regime was facing, Southern Sudan policy proved to be his undoing. The government disengaged itself to solve Southern problem, it only seeing the matter as liability or something that could be solved through Arabizing and Islamizing Southerners bit by bit. Of course, Abbud pick up from their old way of disparagement, following what previous administrations start doing.
For instance, in February 1957, the government of Abdallah Khalil authorized the minister of education to take charges of all missionary schools and integrated them into the national educational system by rapidly imposing Arabization to all programs in the country, in which, Arabic will replace English and be the language of instruction in Southern Schools. It also has to be accompanying by Islamization. Similarly, Abbud approved the trend and order six intermediate Islamic schools to be built in the south; their functioning was to encourage conversion to Islam, especially young students. Mosques were constructed, and the Sabbath was changed from Sunday to Friday. Thereafter, military administrative policy was imposed on the South to appall those who would try to resist the conversion. Activities of Christian missionaries were place under increasing restrictions, where it is prohibited to practicing religion outside of the Church.
The second Sudan’s military coup
As aforementioned, on May 25, 1969, several young officers who call themselves “The
Free Officers” made a conspiracy to seized power; among them, was Colonel Jaafar Muhammad Nimeri as a ringleader of the group. Nimeri planned and justified the coup on the ground that, “civilian politicians who run the government, had paralyzed the decision making process, failed the country’s economic system, and left Sudan without permanent constitutions”. With him was Babikir Awadallah, the former chief justice who had been knowledgeable about the coup during its process.
He joined the coup leaders and together with Nimeri announced what was taken place in the country’s radio. The group constituted themselves as the ten members Revolutionary Command Council who will share collective executive authority under Jaafar Nimeri chair. On assuming control, the Revolutionary Command Council, proclaimed the establishment of a “democratic socialist republic of the Sudan” dedicated itself to advance socialism.
Their first demanded act included the suspension of the Transitional Constitution, the abolition of all government institutions, and the banning of all political parties. Babikir had outlined major steps they, as the governing body will be taken and are necessary to replace foreign investment; by imposing state monopolies on all imported and exported commodities, restrict private businesses, and establish close economic ties with socialist and Arab countries.
The Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) immediately begun to nationalize many businesses and banks. Most importantly, Nimeri ordered the arrest of sixty-three civilian politicians and forcibly retired many senior army officers.
While forming the new government, Awadallah was appointed prime minister under Nimeri who will work to implement RCC directive policies. He was designate to preside over a twenty-one-member cabinet that include only three officers from Revolutionary Command Council, among them was, the chairperson Jaafar Nimeri who was also the defense minister. The cabinet’s other military members held the portfolios of internal security and communications.
Nine members of the Awadallah’s administrative regime has allegedly said to be communists. Others identified themselves as Marxists. Since the Revolutionary Command Council lacked political and administrative experience, the communists played a significant role shaping the government policies and programs. Despite the influence of individual members of Sudan Communist Party, the Revolutionary Command Council claimed that, its cooperation with the party was a matter of convenience.
In November of 1969, Awadallah lost the prime minister post. He claimed the regime could not survive without communist assistance. In this regard, anti-communist demonstrations erupted in Khartoum, and communist ministers were reshuffle in the government. Nimeri became the head of the civilian government in addition to being a commander in chief of the state and the army forces, plus the vacant seat of prime minister. He succeeded Awadallah.
Later on, Awadallah had able to retain his position as a sole Revolutionary Command Council deputy chairperson and minister of justice who has an important link with leftist elements. Having checked the communists, Nimeri was confront with a more unpredictable confrontation. Conservative forces led by the Ansar army, posed the greatest threat to the Revolutionary Command Council. During winter of 1969, Imam Al Hadi had encouraged Ansar to take violent action against the government challenging Jaafar Nimeri and the Revolutionary Command Council by ordered the Ansar to match into Omdurman, to stage a mass protest carrying out only by the army.
After great destruction of property, Nimeri reacted swiftly to mobilize his own forces to steam up the White Nile in Aba Island, and launched surprise attack against Ansar. After fierce battle, Ansar were overpowered. Their key leader Imam Al Hadi decided to escape Sudan headed to Ethiopia. Unfortunately, he was later trapp and kill, near the Ethiopian border by RCC force; and thousands of Ansar army lost their life. This confrontation also caused Sadiq al Madhi, the remaining leader of Ansar, slipped out of the Sudan to exile.
At that particular period, the whole situation became doom and looks like the Madhya’s family was confiscate since their traditional Ansar army was destroy. Having crushed the Ansar, Nimeri turned to the communists who criticized him for joining all estates and assets of the Mahdi and Mirghani families were seize. Egypt and Libya in the Federation of Arab Republics, imitating Egyptian president Nasser and Libyan president Qadhafi who brutally smashed their country’s communist parties. Base on that brutality, communist party supporters’ demonstrations at the University of Khartoum became a common occurrence.
The Sudan Communist Party had been actively plotting against Nimeri, when Nimeri declared war on them. Many of their leaders were disperse. When the dispersing was finalized, Nimeri began to boast openly that “he had secured Sudan from the communist threat,” but sooner than later, Hashim Muhammad al Atah, posted another threat, after he heard rumors that he was about to be arrested. Instead of letting the arrest takes place or happened, Hashim unilaterally launched a coup d’état in broad daylight at about 3:30 PM, from barracks in the capital Khartoum.
Purely, Mr. Ata had acted alone, without the approval of his two co-conspirators, Babikr al-Nur Sawar al Dahab and Faruq Uthman Hamdallah, who were in London, or the approval of the SCP political bureau, which was taken completely by surprise. Not only that, Ata had made several fatal mistakes. Once, he supports the coup and influences the troops to match through the streets of Khartoum, during the struggle with Nimeri. Second, the conspirators had seriously misjudged the coup by trying to influence President Muhammad Anwar al Sadat who succeeded Nasser up on Nasser’s death, and forgot that Egypt is the Nimeri’s backbone.
Nimeri communicate what was taking place with Sadat and Muammar Qadhafi who offered him forces to fly to Khartoum in order to tackle the situation. Hashim Muhammad al Ata was completely had isolated and the coup that was staged for three days had finally been brought to an end. At last, three principal leaders of the Sudan Communist Party, Abd al khaliq Mahjub, al Shafi Ahmad al Shakh, and Joseph Garang, were immediately and secretly try and hanged. Other known communist key leaders were arrest and some were gun down on Khartoum street corners.
From that given time, Sudan Communist Party had crippled and had never recovered again, compare to its former strength; thereafter, many of its permanent members had immediately drifted to the new party, the Sudan socialist Union (SSU) and remain denouncing Nimeri’s policies. However, Nimeri did not bother about them since their power had destroyed. He only began to reexamine his foreign policy and decided to break his administration’s relationship with Russia. His government declare its commitment to Arab socialism and revises the support for those who were fighting for independences in Africa.
In his domestic policy, Nimeri decided to make changes in the government, by dissolving Revolutionary Command Council and establish a presidential system. He asked Sudanese people to hold a referendum, which resulted of him wining a majority of votes and became the country’s president for a six years’ term. After this, the president turned his energy and time to reshape his policies regarding Southern Sudan.
The third military government culminated by coup in 1989
As previously touched base on, on the night of June 30, 1989, a group of army officers led by Omar Hassan Al Bashir revealed their plot of overthrowing the coalition government of Sadiq Al Mahdi in a bloodless coup d’état like 1969 Nimeri coup. Omar Al Bashir and his comrades in the army swiftly executed the coup as they had planned. The elite paratrooper brigade backed by the army engineers at the strategic city of Khartoum coordinated their move at night and made themselves ready for the daybreak.
Their leader Omar Al Bashir who had been promoted to the rank of brigadier in 1988 commanding 8th infantry Brigade fighting the SPLA insurgency in Mayom town in Bentiu South Sudan was among them. Prior to his promotion, Bashir had just finished Military Academy training in Cairo where he had seen himself as a raising leader. While at the military Academy training, Al Bashir met with Ali Uthman Muhamad Taha, the head of NIF party in the Constituent Assembly and spent about three weeks with him planning to seize the government in a closer time.
After coming back from training, he headed to areas he controls in South Sudan and Kordofan before the coup outbreak could approach. As quickly as possible, Al Bashir left his headquarters in both Southern Sudan and Kordofan for Khartoum to prepare for the coup. He mobilizes the army and prepares them for the tusk. The officers who called themselves the National Salvation Revolutionary Command Council or just Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) were not happy with how the country was heading specially the peace Sadiq Al Mahdi was about to make with the SPLM/A, which was the main reason for them to denounced him and announced the coup. Shortly before Sadiq was on schedule to meet John Garang in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
During his early morning address over the radio Omdurman, Bashir gave no indication regarding the goals of the coup and why he was unsatisfied with Sadiq’s administration. He only denounced Al Mahdi notion of democratization and the failures of democratic government to respect their way of life, the Islamic totalitarianism system. This was a provocative statement, which could not be a justifiable evident to overthrow the government with.
Indeed, most of the citizens were unhappy about Sadiq in- effectiveness to stabilize the economy. Within hours of the coup, twenty Sudanese leading politicians and some hundred military officers who were seen as pro Sadiq administration or hard cores, were arrested and incarcerated in Kobar prison; among them was the prime minister himself and Muhammad Uthman al Mirghani, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Muhammad Ibrahim Nugud of the Sudan Communist Part (SCP). To demonstrate their impartiality, the RCC had also decided to arrest their ideological patron Dr. Hasan al Turabi, who, however, was allow to go home after a brief symbolic stay in a minimum-security cell in Kobar. While he was in jail, Turabi exuding his characteristic aplomb or self-assurance to lecture his fellow prisoners how a new chapter in Sudanese history was about to be written.
He asserted that, “sharia would remain the supreme law of the land and Islamic State would have to be created despite the protestations of the Southern Sudanese.” His symbolic imprisonment became apparent upon his release in December 1989. When all members of the Revolutionary Command Council including Omer Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir himself showed an extraordinary gesture of respect to him. They ceremonially welcome him and invite him to take part in the oath of all ministers. This affirmation of obedience of Hasan al Turabi confirmed what everyone were suspected that Turabi was indeed the theological architect, patron, and sheik of the Islamist revolution who spear headed the coup silently while working with his sister husband Sadiq al Mahdi.
Turabi made al Bashir proud for the tireless work he had shown to implement his agendas and al Bashir in return was openly executed Turabi’s instructions without hesitation. Historically, Omer Hasan al Bashir was not known outside of the Sudan when he was staging the coup. He was born on January 1, 1945 to a working class parents in a small village called Hosh Bannaga 150 kilometers north of the capital Khartoum, which is located in the outskirts of Shendi in the River Nile State. He started his education there and graduated from the Ahlia Middle School in Shendi. After that, his family moved to Khartoum at the search of a better life at the end of the 1950s, where he received his secondary education while helping to supplement the family income by repairing automobiles. Shortly after secondary school, Al Bashir was admitted to the Sudanese military academy as a cadet in the paratroopers.
However, during the Arab Israeli War in 1973, Al Bashir volunteers himself to go to war and fight alongside of the Egyptian army; that distinguished him and won him rapid promotions. After coming back from that war, he was transfer to an infantry brigade and was given more chance to study in military college. He obtained master degrees in military science from the Sudan College of Commanders and from the Malaysian Military College.
While in the army, Al Bashir had no used for the sectarian political parties, which mean, he did not have any political affiliation before the coup. He became NIF member because national Islamist shares the same ideology with him. At first, the June 30, 1989 coup appeared to be a little bit different from the two previous military coups. This was because there was much more intellectual and political ideology behind the revolution than just another bunch of disgruntles junior officers seizing the government. When the Revolutionary Command Council decided to formally established the government in October1989, they prioritized the adoption of the term “Islamist” preferred by Hassan al Turabi to distinguish themselves and their followers from “other” Muslim fundamentalists and to differentiate their politics and theology from those of the secular political parties who favor secularism. Within a week, the RCC began to ban all political parties similar to what pervious coup stagers Abbud and Nimeri had done in 1958 and 1969.
All senior army and police officers that did not affiliate with the NIF regime were unceremoniously sacked and horrifically intimidated. Even all Newspapers were closed down; radio and television, were placed under the government supervision. The administration began to launch a massive campaign to assure the Sudanese that members of the Revolutionary Command Council were committed to Orthodox Islam, Islamic law, and Islamic dress, which is the north Sudanese identity.
The Sudanese identity is defined as the struggle between the sacred and profane religious and secular Arab Islam and Western Christianity, the former founded on the Quran in which the true Muslim become part of a new Pan-Islamic society; despite the apparent collegiality of the Revolutionary Command Council. The secular Sudanese professionals in Khartoum were convinced that its major decisions were not those of Al Bashir and the Revolutionary Command Council committee, which include prominent members of the NIF.
The young Islamist army officers and members of Revolutionary Command Council met after a curfew in a Mosque in downtown Khartoum and later in their army headquarters. The chairperson of the council was none other than Ali Muhammad Taha, the president of the NIF party who met Al Bashir during his trip to military training in Egypt. Within the few months, the committees were determined to impose their Arab Islamist ideology upon unwilling Sudanese by the means of a government that had no popular support in the rural areas and little in major towns. The enforcement of their political and theological correctness was unusual among Sudanese elites.
In order for them to address their agendas to the public, the Revolutionary Command Council began to delegate their officers to sale their ideas and assure the people that theirs will be the much-needed change in the country. Nonetheless, many Sudanese were skeptics about their rhetoric. In Sudanese society, there was a deep tradition of freedom of speech and tolerance in the public affairs, which is a great pride among the Sudanese in their various communities.
However, the RCC intelligent officers tolerate this by censored those who talk and questioned their policies. Officially, the Sudanese intelligence service is place under the authority of the minister of the interior and all security agencies. During the coup early days, the agency was engaged in tracking down pro Sadiq supporters. Here the NIF was seen to intimidate the civilian populace who disagreed with their ideology. Many saw this intimidation, as Al Bashir and Turabi creation; whoever made the decision was too extreme in brutalizing these oppositional groups in unprecedented manner.
The campaign was carry out throughout the country; including provincial urban centers arresting and restructuring law and order. Individuals began to leave the country avoiding torturing. Those who remained in the country face these descriptive arrests and detentions without charges and solitary confinement. The torture had become an everyday institutionalized habit regularly used in the infamous “Ghost Houses” in all the major cities and towns in the Sudan.
The survivors who have been tortured in those mentioned Ghost Houses overwhelmingly told the evidence; despite the official denial, that torture was not being practice in the country. All horrors such as pouring cold water on prisoners, hanging from the hands, burning with cigarettes, electric prods, mock executions, and rape accompanied by regular beatings and humiliation in tiny jail cells. Many Sudanese who face those atrocities suffered permanent disabilities after their release. Some detainees were simply had to be tortured and release, while others have to be charge and try in special Islamist courts under summary procedure without due process model counsel. There was no right of appeal when a sentence has given.
The administration has to rushed individuals to prisons and carryout immediate torture immediately, as a means of intimidation. The life at that given occasion was very difficult and fearsome, due to the torture of every conceivable means and mock executions, as well as the use of drugs, electric shock, and death. Many Sudanese were simply disappeared, and their where about was unknown. Their deaths were unrecorded. Some were accused because of possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages; others were publicly executed for possession of heroin or undocumented foreign currency.
Prominent scholars were single out for arrest and torture and female employees were dismissing from their jobs, and those who remained were required to dress in the Islamic style even if you are not Muslim yourself. By the winter of 1990, many Sudanese had escaped in massive numbers to Diaspora such as neighboring Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Europe just to name only a few. Those who remained in the country were subjected to the above mistreatment acts, even the relatives and friends who questioned their relatives where about, were frequently harassed and ordered not to leave town without permission for the authority.
The security officers often arbitrarily dispersed meetings of any form; and the relatives of political exiles were repeatedly detent and torture. The RCC as mentioned had wasted no time from banning all non-governmental Medias and newspapers. Immediately upon seizing power, Al Bashir had created a system of having two vice presidents, a cabinet, a council of ministers, and a supreme commander of Sudan’s military forces. His purge of Sudan’s judiciary was absent. The Sudan Bar Association, which had a long and distinguished tradition of independence, was prorogue, and the Revolutionary Command Council effectively emasculated the judiciary by appointing a chief justice without portfolio, a post formerly elected by sitting Islamist judges who are the members of the NIF party.
Omar Hassan al Bashir regime imposed an Islamist judicial system on Sudan that embraced civil and criminal courts, security courts for national security cases, and tribal courts that operated in isolated rural areas. The regime has also oversight responsibilities for secretive military courts, where legal counsel was not permit. The appointed Islamist judge does not act on his or her own initiatives; a directive order has to be given that every judge has to follow. First, they have to be active in Islamic arena and informally monitor to determine whether they were in accordance with Islamic Laws, forbidden, desirable or not recommended.
Jurist should review parliamentary laws to see if they have been conformed to their Islamic Content Sharia, which has to be the core of the legal system to control government and guide it. The Islamist during Al Bashir had dominated the military, the executive, and the judiciary. They regarded the sectarian political parties as useless, which just want to copy Western secularism system. Many of these parties’ members fled the country and the tyranny of the regime to join Sudanese Diasporas who already had escaped the country. The runaway parties were replaced by a Transitional National Council (TNC) that was appointed by the Revolutionary Command Council consisted of trusted, theologically correct individuals who benignly and routinely approved the government’s domestic policies.
The Transitional National Council would serve until when the revolutionary government has structured its political structures in whole parties of the country. The government has to be established base on the approach Hasan Al Turabi had advocated about for many years, which is an Islamist State with Sharia as its supreme law. The concept must not have to be confused with Western democracy because only qualify individuals will be employed and would acts on behalf of the Muslim community, where Arabic and Islam must have to be imposed on none Muslim communities in the country. Sudanese women would have to wear their traditional garb (tope). After months of interminable dialogue, the Revolutionary Command Council has finalized its work and announced the sharia laws had to be enforce by the police, which had occupied by the dedicated NIF members. The hash imposition of Sharia law over none Muslim had created serious dilemma for none Muslim Sudanese.
Many none Muslim Sudanese had excluded and discriminated in all sectors of the government. Such discrimination was greater toward Christian and those with African traditional religions. Hence, thousands of thousands Southern Sudanese who immigrated to the north had allocated to slum camps surrounding Khartoum. Ministers, priests, and congregations were regularly harassed and subjected in day-to-day bases. At that particular period, new Islamic laws were promulgated and enforce. Minor crimes are seriously punishing.
Punishment for stealing was define as an amputation of one hand for the first offense and the remainder hand for the second offense. Adultery was punishable by death from stoning and prostitution by beating with rods or whip. The distinctions between violation of sharia and human rights were frequently fuzzy. Numerous forcible missions of Arabization were frequently conduct, much of which was the work of Arab militias armed by the government. As part of its ideologically inspired indoctrination of Arabization and Islamization, the new regime was determined to enlarge the size of the armed forces to complete their domestic program which was to convert none Muslims so that majority of those who fight them especially southerners will accept their indoctrination and make them able to defeat the SPLA.
These ambitions for military and internal security arrangements place only small interest of developing the economy. Consequently, by the end of 1990, there were only sufficient resources to increase the army by twenty percent to sixty-five thousand instead of the goal of seventy-eight thousand. The country unemployment had risen, however, the administration was only concern to win the civil war and defend their revolution. The size of the air force was double, but the number of combat aircrafts had actually declined because of inadequate maintenance and lack of spare parts caused by the scarcity of foreign currency.
The Revolutionary Command Council decided to create more organized militia than regular Murahallin. The People’s Defense Force was created to secure the regime and expand the faith when the regime could not rely on the army. The recruits for the paramilitary People Defense Force were conscripted from a universal and very unpopular draft that numbered about fifteen thousand. Immediately, instructors introduced the draftees to weaponry from the Sudan army. However, their instruction was more religious than military where known Muslim leaders who are members of the NIF and Muslim Brotherhood deliver lectures on Islam.
Ideally, the regime employed this tactic of Islamizing the army in order to combat None-Muslim insurrections in the South and political or religious dissent in the North. One of the trusted Islamic teachers who were entrust to teach People Defense Force was Ibrahim Al Sanussi. He frequently lectured at the camps of the PDF were widely distributed among the recruits. The few weeks of the military training were lecture at the camps of the recruits regarding how to become a soldier.
It was no secret in Sudan to train fighters who have to be transferred to southern part of the country to commit atrocity. The newer recruits were first test in Blue Nile province, where they suffered heavily at the hands of the SPLA. They were employ after the army had suffered defeat, with heavy casualties at the hands of the SPLA. Members of the NIF to become police and NIF Party reserve militia called the youth of the Homeland eventually handed over the most dependable units to civilian control. The recruiters were considered the most reliable force than the regular police to suppress civilians whenever demonstrations are taking place.
Throughout the first year of the Revolution, Hassan Al Turabi was rarely mention in the government control media. He was very busy working with his wife creating an International Organization of Muslim Women and his own organization called Popular Arab Islamic Congress to promote their image in the world of Islam. His organization would become the forum for the worldwide Islamist revolution to coordinate the anti-imperialist movements in Muslim countries Turabi emerged from the shadow to leave no doubt, as to whom Sudan’s most powerful civilian politician was.
The first general assembly for his organization was held in Khartoum for three days from April 25 to 28 1991 and attended by three hundred Sudanese and two hundred delegates from forty-five Islamic countries, which include Middle East, North Africa, Great Britain and the United States of America, just to name only the few. The delegates agreed to establish the “armed Islamist International” and a permanent secretariat were created with Turabi as its secretary general.
Sudan has soon become the center for training of Islamist mujahidin seeking to continue strengthened Islamic jihad. Then, in December 1991, the NIF has welcomed Osama Bin Ladin to Khartoum. In a very short time, he purchased an office in downtown Khartoum and bought a home near the home of the NIF leader Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha. Turabi organized a reception of his honor in which Bin Ladin pledged to donate money to Turabi organization. Their alliance was further cement when Osama married Turabi’s niece as his third wife. Hence, the Al Qaida leader and his group were allowed to move freely in and out of the Sudan. Special members of al –Qaida had been given Sudanese diplomatic passports; while others who seek to be citizens were, allow to do so.
Sudan’s fourth military coup
For nearly thirty years, President Omar Hassan Al Bashir has ruled Sudan with an authoritarian zeal that ranks him among the world’s most notorious dictators. International court accused him of severe human rights gross abuses, corruption and economic incompetence. His administration has been repeatedly sanctioned and condemned, but all such actions have had little effect on his authoritarian leader.
On December 19, 2019, a riot began in the city of Atbara over the price of bread and gas. Such demonstrations grew so fast and became a nationwide anti al Bashir movement. Many young protesters had quickly occupied public arenas and filled streets, calling for freedom, peace and justice. As the movement grew, authority responded by cracking down the protesters on streets by arresting some and killing the rest especially when former vice president Taha came to parliament and ordered the army to shot to killed.
Despite all killings and detentions, demonstrators did not back down. Basher has done everything that could keep him on power. First, he dissolved all governors and replace them with military governors, yet, the hungry masses who had nothing to lose were so persistent. Secondly, Omar announced he will not run in 2020 election, still those gestures are defied. He even try to reason that demonstrators are Darfur rebels, then the determined protesters responded, “ we are all Darfur” referring to the Darfur civil war that started in 2003 which led Bashir to be indicted by the international criminal court which he had defied for years. Last but not least, Al Bashir has been toppled. What remain to be seen is whether the situation of Sudan will be result with country being rule by civilian administration or dejevu of military ruling will rekindle.
In summing, Sudan’s political system is an authoritarian and a totalitarian form of governance. All successive oppressor regimes deny fundamental human rights to the country’s diverse ethnic groups. The end of Omar Al Bashir’s nearly 30 years rule, provide a momentous opportunity for Sudan to establish a democratic government that will respect human dignity and allow the rule of law to be the guidance principle of governance.
The country professionals Association, which spearheaded the demonstration last year, should insist on demanding a transition to civilian rule before they can go home and make sure that the nation is fully clear from authoritarian, totalitarians forms of governance, and introduce reforms to help end decades of abuse which had paralyzed Sudan since the country is founded.
The author is a concerned South Sudan citizen and be reached by firstname.lastname@example.org
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