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Sudan’s History: From Independence In 1956 To 2005

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Sudan is a country in northeast Africa. On 1 January, 1956 it got independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt. Ismail al-Azhari, leader of the National Unionist Party (NUP), became the prime minister.

On 16–17 November, 1958, General Ibrahim Abbud (commander in Sudanese army) took a seizure of power by dissolving the political parties. A council of 12 superior officers set up a military rule and brought economic growth. On 8 November, 1959 the government made an agreement with Egypt related to the river Nile’s water and coordinated it to independent Sudan.

Sudanese prime minister Ibrahim Abboud. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Due to his rule, several things changed. Foreign Christian missionaries were dismissed between 1962 and 1964, education shifted from the English syllabus to Arabic, etc. In October 1962 a strike took place in southern schools that resulted in anti-government indications followed by a general surge of students over the border.

In 1963, an uprising broke out in the upper parts of the Nile and Equatoria and this was led by Anya Nya (a rebel army formed during the first Sudanese civil war). They had the mindset that violence could make general Abbud’s government find the solution for approving the southerners.

In October 1964, students at the University of Khartoum held a meeting in opposition to a government prohibition for criticising the government action in southern Sudan. Indications followed, and with most of its forces committed in southern Sudan, the military regime was not able to maintain jurisdiction.

So, General Abbud resigned and a provisional government was formed under Sirr al Khatim al-Khalifa.

In June 1965, a coalition government was formed under Muhammad Amjad Mahjub and Ismail al Azari was appointed as the president. His government was not able to handle economic, social and constitutional issues and even conflicts continued in the southern part.

Colonel Gaafar Nimeiry led a military coup and seized the government on 25 May, 1969. He demobilised the Sudanese Communist Party, which went underground; its leader, Imam al Hadi, was killed and his supporters scattered. He assured a permanent constitution and National Assembly, established himself as president of the state and began the Sudanese Socialist Union (SSU) as the country’s only party.

Jaafar Nimeiry
Colonel Gaafar Nimeiry. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This was also done for finding a resolution to southern rebels. On 27 February, 1972, the Addis Ababa Agreement ended a 17-year conflict between the Anya Nya and Sudanese army and assisted in southern region autonomy. It wouldn’t be divided into three regions, Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr al-Ghazal and this region would have different legislatures and executive body and soldiers of Anya Nya would be united in the police and Sudanese army.

This agreement led to economic growth as Sudan used the funds that were saved for the civil war, which led to growth in petroleum revenues.

In 1970 for various development programs, loans were taken from the IMF and investments from private corporations and precedence was given for increasing production of items like sugar, wheat and cotton. The new projects were attended by efforts to increase the national infrastructure. But due to inefficient implementation led to an economic crisis in the 1980s.

In 1977 inflation and debt increased. There were mainly two reasons that led to it. The first was that planning was inefficient as individual ministries negotiated external loans for projects without the sanction of the central planning authority. The result was inadequate management and corruption.

The second was that the Sudanese government was not able to manage external issues. The rise in oil prices led to an increase in Sudan’s bill for petroleum products. Also, the accompanying development projects in the Persian Gulf drained Sudan of its best professional and skilled workers who were attracted by high foreign wages.

Even after signing the Addis Ababa agreement, the conflicts continued in the south and then were repressed.

In May 1983, an army division deployed at Bor (a city located near Nile and capital of Jonglei state) and fled into a hedge under the guidance of Colonel John Garang De Mabior. Earlier, Gaafar Nimeiri looked to repress the rebels by military force. His arrangement of the Sudanese army only succeeded in disrupting the distribution of food, which, when linked with drought and diminished harvests, created famine in southern Sudan.

Sadiq Al Mahdi
Sadiq Al Mahdi. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Nimeiri was overthrown in a revolt in April 1985 by his chief of staff, General Abd-al Rahman Siwar al-Dahab. The new military government held elections in 1986 in which Sadiq al-Mahdi was re-elected as the prime minister. There was political instability, party manipulations for 3 years, due to which there was a short-lived coalition and attempts to reach a solution with SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army).

On 30 June, 1989, irresolution ended as the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation led by Lieutenant General Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir overthrew the existing government.

The Revolutionary Command Council locked up hundreds of political opponents, banned trade unions and political parties, silenced the press and deconstructed the judiciary.

It looked to take legal actions in the war in the south with enthusiasm, reserved only by the worsening of the national economy. With the support of the NIF (National Islamic Front), the Muslim Brotherhood and a cruel and well-organised security system, the most unpopular government in the modern history of Sudan remained secure in power as the county entered the last tenure of the 20th century.

RCC (Revolutionary Command Council) and its supporters and Muslim friendship sanctioned Bashir to re-establish Islamic law, including spanking in 1991 March.

The economy was getting worsened, occasion by this segregation and by civil war in the south, fallen production and hyperinflation. There were shortages of basic commodities, specifically in the diplomatic urban areas, creating disruption which was brutally exceeded.

Tong Ping UN Base, South Sudan
Tong Ping UN Base, South Sudan. (Source: flickr)

In the south, the war continued and SPLA (with an aim to establish democratic Sudan, fighting for oil resources and control of water) conquered towns except for small-town capitals of Malakal, Wau, and Juba.

The government armed an Arab militia against African opponents, especially the Dinka. Africans fled to northern towns and cities due to drought and raids by the Arab military. Thousands died while escaping the native East African famine or died in the camps for the displaced. Also, they didn’t receive any aid from the RCC-led government, which was determined to repress the SPLA as the opening step in a policy to Islamise the non-Muslims of southern Sudan.

The RCC ruled until 1993. In 1993 there was a transformation from military rule to civilian government. Nevertheless, it was a civilian government in which the NIF (national congress party) was in power because the RCC appointed Bashir to the presidency of the new government before demobilising.

The first presidential and legislative elections since the 1989 overthrow were held in 1996. Bashir won the presidency and was again elected in 2000. There was the introduction of multiparty politics in 1999.

Even if regarded with despair by many, it also seemed to support the transformation to a more democratic detain to government. Sudan began to export oil, providing the opportunity to bring in desired revenue to the country’s ruined economy.

The government of Sudan and its rivals eventually signed an agreement in January 2005 called the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which eventually ended the country’s long-lasting civil war. A new constitution was adopted for several considering and distributing wealth, borders and security. Also, a separate administration was approved for South Sudan.

Also, delicate areas like southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile were provided with special status. The Disputed Abyei region was administered by both northern and southern Sudanese state governments until, through a referendum majority of the votes weren’t received. The CPA  decided whether to keep the agreement or to negotiate a new agreement with the northern government.

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