Omer B. Abu Haraz
Two countries in Africa have a lot of similarities with Sudan in different aspects except one. They have stable system of governance since their independence from the British colonization. Kenya and Tanzania. Both got their independence on almost the same date as Sudan’s independence from British rule. The three countries share wide ethnic diversities, numerous tribes, high levels of illiteracy, and low levels of awareness. All of those shared similarities are repulsive to the application of the parliamentary system of governance which pre-requisites are a high level of literacy, a good education system, and popular awareness.
The leaders of Kenya and Tanzania – Jomo Kenyatta and Julius Nyrerie who led their two countries to independence more than sixty years ago did not adopt or inherit the British parliamentary system. Both leaders were real patriotic not influenced by any external interests and discourses.
Leaders of Sudan who led the country to independence were greatly influenced by the condominiums of colonizing countries.
Two main historic parties of the two sects – Khatmia and Ansar – were formed after the direct involvement and assistance of Egypt and Britain. Egypt supported the then-nascent party of the National Unionist Party under the leadership of late Ismail Al-Azhari.NUP was calling for the union with Egypt. The British in a counter move helped and assisted the Ansar Mahdi Sect to form a political party called Umma.
The slogan of the Umma party was full independence of Sudan without any room for a union with Egypt. This dual leadership in the struggle for independence led to the inheritance of the British parliamentary system of governance. Unaware of the vital pre-requisites of the parliamentary system both parties opted blindly for inheriting the British governance system. The parliamentary system in Sudan failed at the onset of independence. After less than two years of the election of the first prime minister, Ismail Al-Azhari the first military coup seized power in November 1958 (independence was on January 1956).
For 66 years since independence, the country cycled in a series of military coups – successful and failed.
The military rule prevailed for 82% of the period since independence. Only 12 years out of 66 were the parliamentary civilian rule.
On the other side, the two similar countries – Kenya and Tanzania – which opted for a presidential democratic system enjoyed more than sixty years of stable rule.
In Kenya, which witnessed last week’s general elections for a president after the elapse of the allowed tenure maximum of two terms (every 5 years)of the outgoing president Uhura Kenyatta (elected on 2013). Since the independence of Kenya, only five presidents assumed rule. Jomo Kenyatta, Danial Arab Moi, Kebaki, Uhuru Kenyatta and the present-elect Willaim Rutu. Both countries -Kenya and Tanzania- have and still have stable democratic presidential governance. Both countries are developing at high rates of economic growth.
The above comparison and arguments lead me directly to repeat my calls for changing the system of governance by a consensus from all parties and political groups. It could be a radical breakthrough to the present precarious and dreadful impasse.
Opting for the presidential system will dilute the bitterness of the shattered differences between factions and will lead and force them to opt for consolidation into two or three blocs – left, right and middle – to raise their chances of winning the one seat of a president.
The presidential system will help in breaking the prolonged deadlock because it does not require a long transitional period and high costs of painstaking census and allocation of constituencies.
I end by repeating my call that the adopted parliamentary system in Sudan was and is a grave mistake that should not be repeated.
My guideline was and is the great wisdom of Einstein, “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.