Omer B. Abu Haraz
From what is happening now and since the ousting of the longest autocratic rule of the Islamic Salvation regime, it is clear that Sudan is still right in the middle of the loopholes of the vicious circle of the short democratic rule followed by the long autocratic military regime.
The British colonization to Sudan in 1898 after defeating the Mahdia Islamic Rule (1885 – 1898) stayed in power for 58 years. During the British rule, Sudan was transformed from the backward Adhoc rule of Sharia which lacked any form of governance respecting the rule of law and order.
The Mahdia era was ruthlessly abusing all humanitarian laws which subjected all opponents to unprecedented torture and killing in the absence of laws. The British introduced penal laws, penal procedures laws, commercial laws together with Sharia laws applied to personal affairs only e.g. marriage, divorce, heritage, and the like. Sharia laws were applied to Muslims only in a separate judiciary system.
The British modernized the governance to the level of the developed countries. They founded a State of Art Civil Service governed by assessment of performance and accountability.
Governance was only a regional semi-federal system on 9 states – 6 in the north and 3 in the south. The hierarchy in civil service was perfect, tight, and well looked after.
When the British left Sudan in 1956 the civil service was one of the best in the world.
Few years before leaving, the British rulers conducted the first general election in Sudan. It was in 1953 when the British formed an election committee headed by the Indian Judge Suku Mar Sinand and four other Sudanese. The intention of the British rulers to run the elections before leaving was to make sure that the relinquishing of power happens in prudent, safe, and correct steps. In 1954 late Ismail Al-Azhari formed the first Sudanese government after winning a comfortable majority in the first parliament. With the Umma party being their runner-up.
After few years of the Presidency of Al-Azhari, the Umma party succeeded in aligning with minority members of the parliament (MPs) which succeeded in casting a vote of no-confidence on Azhari’s government. A new government was formed headed by the Umma party leaders Abdallah Khalil in late 1957. In less than a year the Unionist Democratic Party (JDP) of Azhari managed to bring minority MPs to its side and we’re supposed to overthrow the Umma party government in the parliament session of November 17, 1958. Few days before this date Abdallah Khalil by virtue of his post as P.M. and minister of defense ordered the army top brass to take over on the allegations that Sudan sovereignty is under imminent threat by a neighboring country.
On November 17, 1958, General Abboud, the army chief, announced seizing power, dissolving the parliament and the government. The army ruled for 6 years when ousted by the first popular uprising of October 1964. The spark of the revolution was in the hostels of the University of Khartoum (which were the barracks of the British soldiers) when the police used excessive force to desperate a rally about the conflicts of South Sudan. One student was killed by live ammunition.
General Abboud relinquished power to a civilian government whose majority was communists and other leftists. The traditional old parties and the then-nascent Islamic Charter Front exerted unrelenting pressure on the prime minister, late Sirel Khatim Al-Khalifa to call and run early elections. He gave in and ran elections after less than a year. The traditional parties assumed rule. The first thing they did was dissolving the Communist party and expulsing its 11 members from the parliament.
In retaliation and after 4 years the Communists staged a military coup in May 1969 headed by Colonel Nimeri. Two years later Nimeri three members of the Revolutionary Command Council together with the top leaders of the Communist party after a failed coup attempt in 1971. In 1972 Nimeri became President of the Republic after a rigged plebiscite. Numeri was ousted by the second popular uprising in April 1985. The top brass of the army in their regular hierarchy aligned with the popular movement and shared power with them. Similar to the first revolution of October 1964 the leftist leaders were on top.
This alarmed the traditional parties and the growing-up Islamic Front who were supported by the Military Council to call for speedy elections after one year in 1986. This led the Umma party to form three failed governments under the premiership of Sadiq Al-Mahdi.
Failure of the three governments of Al-Mahdi motivated the Islamic Front (which was 50 seats in 1986) to plot a military coup in June 1989 which ruled for 30 years of autocratic rule, lack of freedoms, and corruption together with the creation of civil wars in Darfur which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and displacements of millions.
The Islamic rule was ousted after the taking to the streets of millions in Khartoum and all other big cities. Again the popular revolution was backed by the top of the army hierarchy who are now the real rulers. The civil component of the revolution failed to deliver and is now under attack from the revolutionaries.
The moral behind this narration is that the three revolutions (1964 – 1985 – 2018) were shared by the alignment of the incumbent top hierarchy of the army who are in the three cases far behind the slogans of the three revolutions.
The vicious circle is still active and working and the harbinger of an imminent change is on the horizon.