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Sudan's Domestic Politics

Akademische Arbeit 2017 13 Seiten

Politik - Internationale Politik - Region: Naher Osten, Vorderer Orient



Radical changes in the world in the late 20th century to a large extent reflected in the political process in African countries. This process – is the ambiguous, contradictory, very diverse in methods, content and results depending on sociohistorical specificity of a particular country. Geographical, historical, cultural and ethnic diversity of the African continent defined the specificity of the political development of the individual states.

The African continent presents a unique opportunity to trace the variety of ways of the development of states, as they are characterized by diversity of the specific historical conditions, different level of socio-economic and geo-political evolution.

Sudan, belonging to three regions - the Arab world, North-East and sub-Saharan Africa - makes it possible to identify both general and specific features of the political development. This factor gives the study the relevance, as well as scientific and practical significance.

Republic of Sudan – is one of the largest by the size of the countries in Africa and the ninth in the world by area. It is located in North Africa, on the shore of the Red Sea. The total area – is 2505810 square km; a population is 29.5 million pers. Sudan borders nine African countries: in the northwest - with Egypt and Libya, in the west - with the Republic of Chad and the Central African Republic in the south - with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Kenya in the east - with Ethiopia and Eritrea. Sudan is the largest Arab country, so the challenges facing it, reflect current problems of both Arab and African countries. In Arabic, the word “Sudan” means “black country”. It is one of the poorest in the Arab world (along with Mauritania and Chad is part of the so-called Sudanese-Saharan “poverty belt”)1.

In Sudan’ territory - in 26 states – there are different ethnic groups, and many languages and dialects, traditions, customs and religions co-exist. As a unified state Sudan in its modern borders was formed mainly in the second half of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, sultanates and the lands of nomads of Northern Sudan were conquered by Egypt, which was part of the Ottoman Empire. At that time, there was the beginning of the unification of North Sudan territory. In the late 19th century Sudan was engulfed in the national liberation struggle, during which significantly strengthened the position of the Muslim religion, providing ideological unity of the population2.

British colonialists managed to suppress the national liberation movement in the North and South Sudan, and January 19, 1899, Britain and Egypt signed an agreement on joint ownership of the Sudan. In the country was established colonial rule in the form of England-Egypt condominium.

The results of the colonial period can be described as follows: firstly, increased the gap in levels of economic, social, cultural and political development of the North and the South. North reached a new qualitative level in many ways - there began the processes of capitalist development and the formation of the nation. Southern society was still largely at the level of the tribal system. Second, the southern provinces were subjected to political discrimination by the central authorities. And finally, between the North and the South there was complete alienation. It should be noted that in today's world it is difficult to find any other country where the gap between the levels of development of neighboring regions would be as great as in Sudan. The problem of the South historically evolved under the influence of various factors - political, socio-economic, ethnic, cultural and religious, which remain valid today.

January 1, 1956 Sudan gained independence, and on the map of Africa a new state - the Republic of the Sudan - appeared. After gaining political independence Sudan, like other developing countries, faced a number of problems, most important of which was the achievement of political unity and the creation of the national economy. Among the most acute problems inherited from the pre-colonial Sudan and the colonial period, was the relationship between North and South, which reflected in the country's political development. Relations between North and South were predetermined by uneven economic, social, political and cultural development of the northern and southern provinces of the country, as well as discriminatory policy which was constantly carried out by the central authorities in relation to the three southern provinces - Equatorial, Upper Nile and Bahr-el-Ghazal, where Negroid ethnic groups lived. The expression of the economic, social and ideological characteristics of North and South Sudan is the specificity of their political life. For nearly fifty years in Sudan alternation of civilian rule with the military regime occurred3.

Features of political development in Sudan are in cyclical change forms of military and civilian rule since independence. The current political situation in Sudan can be summarized as follows:

- Change of political regime in the Sudanese society is due to the low level of socio-economic development, political parties struggle for power and their desire to exploit the military factor.
- Ethnic and religious diversity destabilizes the situation in the country and breaks its democratic development.
- South Sudanese problem not only hinders economic development, but also represents an important negative factor in whole Sudan political process.
- Enhancement factor of the Islamic political movement in Sudan became the failure of civilian governments and military regimes to solve the socio-economic and political problems of the country.

The coming to power of the military is explained by the correction of mistakes of former civilian regime. Indeed civilian rule in 1956-1958, 1964-1969, 1985-1989 years showed incompetence and inefficiency of the management of public affairs. Was not solved the problem of political stability, corruption grew, as self-serving privileged few comes to the power, closely related to tribal and feudal and religious aristocracy, commercial bourgeoisie4.

Helplessness of civilian regimes justified the “lawfulness” of military coups, served as a pretext to establish a dictatorship. The military regimes of Generals I. Abboud (1958-1964), Dzh.Nimeyri (1969-1985)5 and, finally, Omar al-Bashir also failed to solve any of the pressing problems of the country, including the South Sudanese.

Seizing power, the military proclaimed various slogans from the bourgeois-democratic to socialist. They made promises to put an end to the degradation of social and political life, generated by multi-party regimes, restore order and put an end to the illegal enrichment, corruption and waste of public funds, to fight for social justice.

In practice, the proclaimed slogans were not implemented. Moreover, the military regimes banned the activities of political parties and trade unions, persecuted dissenters, established a military dictatorship.

Military regimes, especially the regime of George Nimeiry, represented the interests of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie, which rose from the bowels of the state apparatus and army officers. The latter is exposed to traditional small-proprietor and religious outlook, and nationalist ideas. However, among middle and junior officers there was a strong influence of the Communists, the democratic intelligentsia6.

In the political life of Sudanese society the intelligentsia set the tone, especially the liberal professions, as well as trade unions. The political process involves parties and organizations that were banned during the military regimes and re-entered the political arena in periods of civilian rule. Created back in the 40-50s political parties could not resolve the major socio-economic and political problems of the country during their innings. All these factors have created the basic preconditions for the advancement at the end of the 80s to the political arena of political forces of the Sudan which spoke under the banner of Islamic fundamentalism.

The emergence and development of political Islam in the first place is due to the existence of acute social and economic problems and growing social inequality. The social base of Islamic fundamentalism in Sudan, first of all become marginalized urban youth, refugees and unemployed. At the same time, active supporters of the Islamic way of development - came from the middle classes, the students – are closely associated with the organization “Muslim Brotherhood”7.

Islamic fundamentalists have used the so-called legal revolution of George Nimeiry in 1983. At that time, in accordance with the “September Laws” in 1983 in the country was introduced Sharia law, i.e. Islamic law8.

Nimeiry considered that the imposition of “Islamic order” should divert public opinion from serious difficulties that underwent the Sudanese economy, weaken the influence of the “Muslim Brotherhood”, catching their slogans9. However, Islamic fundamentalists used the “legal revolution” for their own purposes. After the overthrow of the regime of Nimeiry they not only strengthened their ideological influence, but also achieved significant success in the parliamentary elections of 1986 and in early 1988 entered into a coalition government of “national unity”. The ideologist of the Sudanese fundamentalist Hassan al-Turabi became a member of the government. After the coup of 1989, committed by the military, led by General Omar al-Bashir, Islamic fundamentalists got ample opportunity to implement their views10.


1 Berger Mark T. and Weber Heloise, War, Peace and Progress in the 21st Century: Development, Violence and Insecurity (Taylor & Fransis, 2011): 64-65.

2 Holt P.M. and Daly M.W., A History of the Sudan: From the Coming of Islam to the Present Day (Routledge; 6 edition, 2011).

3 Berger Mark T. and Weber Heloise, War, Peace and Progress in the 21st Century: Development, Violence and Insecurity (Taylor & Fransis, 2011).

4 Rubin Lawrence, Islam in the Balance: Ideational Threats in Arab Politics (Stanford University Press, 2014).

5 Wai Dunstan M., “The Sudan Domestic Politics And Foreign Relations Under Nimiery”, Afr Aff (Lond) 78 (312) (1979): 297-317

6 Wai Dunstan M., “The Sudan Domestic Politics, 302.

7 De Maio, Jennifer L., “Is War Contagious? The Transnationalization of Conflict in Darfur”, African Studies Quarterly Volume 11, Issue 4, Summer (2010).

8 Holt P.M. and Daly M.W., A History of the Sudan, 70.

9 Wai Dunstan M., “The Sudan Domestic Politics, 304.

10 Rubin Lawrence , Islam in the Balance, 69.


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Titel: Sudan's Domestic Politics