Kamis, 23 April 2009


Sudan (officially the Republic of Sudan) (Arabic: السودان ‎al-Sūdān)[2] is a country in northeastern Africa. It is the largest country in the African continent and, as a member of the Arab League, also the largest country in the Arab World[3] and tenth largest in the world by area. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, Kenya and Uganda to the southeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest.

The people of Sudan have a long history extending from antiquity, which is intertwined with the history of Egypt, with which it was united politically over several periods. Sudan's modern history has been plagued by civil wars stemming from ethnic, religious, and economic conflict between the Muslim Arab Northern Sudanese (with Nubian roots), and the Christian and animist Nilotes of Southern Sudan.[4][5]

Sudan is (as of 2008) ranked as the second most unstable country in the world according to the Failed States Index, for its military dictatorship and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur. However, despite its internal conflicts, Sudan has managed to achieve economic growth.

Early history of Sudan
Main article: Early history of Sudan
Archaeological evidence has confirmed that the area in the north of Sudan was inhabited at least 60,000 years ago.[citation needed] A settled culture had appeared in the area around 8,000 BC, living in fortified villages, where they subsisted on hunting and fishing, as well as grain gathering and cattle herding while also being shepherds.

The area was known to the Egyptians as Kush and had strong cultural and religious ties to Egypt. In the 8th century BC, however, Kush came under the rule of an aggressive line of monarchs, ruling from the capital city, Napata, who gradually extended their influence into Egypt. About 750 BC, a Kushite king called Kashta conquered Upper Egypt and became ruler of Thebes until approximately 740 BC. His successor, Piankhy, subdued the delta, reunited Egypt under the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, and founded a line of kings who ruled Kush and Thebes for about a hundred years. The dynasty's intervention in the area of modern Syria caused a confrontation between Egypt and Assyria. When the Assyrians in retaliation invaded Egypt, Taharqa (688-663 BC), the last Kushite pharaoh, withdrew and returned the dynasty to Napata, where it continued to rule Kush and extended its dominions to the south and east.

Statue of a Nubian king, Sudan.In 590 BC, an Egyptian army sacked Napata, compelling the Kushite court to move to Meroe near the Sixth Cataract. The Meroitic kingdom subsequently developed independently of Egypt, and during the height of its power in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, Meroe extended over a region from the Third Cataract in the north to Sawba, near present-day Khartoum (the modern capital of Sudan).

The pharaonic tradition persisted among Meroe's rulers, who raised stelae to record the achievements of their reigns and erected pyramids to contain their tombs. These objects and the ruins at palaces, temples and baths at Meroe attest to a centralised political system that employed artisans' skills and commanded the labour of a large workforce. A well-managed irrigation system allowed the area to support a higher population density than was possible during later periods. By the 1st century BC, the use of hieroglyphs gave way to a Meroitic script that adapted the Egyptian writing system to an indigenous, Nubian-related language spoken later by the region's people.

In the 6th century AD, the people known as the Nobatae occupied the Nile's west bank in northern Kush. Eventually they intermarried and established themselves among the Meroitic people as a military aristocracy. Until nearly the 5th century, Rome subsidised the Nobatae and used Meroe as a buffer between Egypt and the Blemmyes. About AD 350, an Axumite army from Abyssinia captured and destroyed Meroe city, ending the kingdom's independent existence

Sudanese soldiers have agreed to ease tensions by withdrawing from the town of Abyei, where fighting left one dead, UN officials say.

Thousands of people fled the disputed oil town after fighting between the army and the police on Friday.

The details remain unclear, but fighting seems to have broken out after police intervened in an argument between a soldier and a trader.

The town is now reported quiet, but people are said to be nervous.

The head of the UN in Abyei Chris Johnson said the joint north-south army unit had agreed to withdraw to its new headquarters north of the town, the BBC's Amber Henshaw reports.

Abyei has suffered a loss of confidence since fighting in May
She said an inquiry would be launched to find out exactly what had happened on Friday, when fighting broke out in Abyei's market place.

Local officials say it started with an argument between a soldier from the north-south army, and a market trader; the police intervened and shots were fired.
One soldier from the north is said to have been killed, and nine other people, including two civilians, wounded.
The situation is now said to be calm but officials say thousands fled the town following the violence.

"We think 8,000 or 9,000 have left the town," Abyei's secretary for public utilities Juac Agok told Reuters news agency.
"In itself it was a small incident. But it has caused a lot of tensions because of what happened in May," he said.
Fighting then began after an argument at a checkpoint but quickly escalated because of long-standing unresolved tensions, dating back to a two-decade civil war between the north and south.
A peace deal ended the conflict in 2005 but could not resolve the boundary for the oil-rich area.
Both sides claim it as their own and have remained at odds over the demarcation of the town.

Major Sudanese Political Parties

The Umma Party (UP)
During the last period of parliamentary democracy, the Umma Party was the largest in the country, and its leader, Sadiq al Mahdi served as prime minister in all coalition governments between 1986 and 1989. Originally founded in 1945, the Umma was the political organization of the Islamic Ansar movement. Its supporters followed the strict teachings of the Mahdi, who ruled Sudan in the 1880s. Although the Ansar were found throughout Sudan, most lived in rural areas of western Darfur and Kurdufan. Since Sudan became independent in 1956, the Umma Party has experienced alternating periods of political prominence and persecution. Sadiq al Mahdi became head of the Umma and spiritual leader of the Ansar in 1970, following clashes with the Nimeiri government, during which about 3,000 Ansar were killed. Following a brief reconciliation with Nimeiri in the mid-1970s, Sadiq al Mahdi was imprisoned for his opposition to the government's foreign and domestic policies, including his 1983 denunciation of the September Laws as being un-Islamic.

Despite Sadiq al Mahdi's criticisms of Nimeiri's efforts to exploit religious sentiments, the Umma was an Islamic party dedicated to achieving its own Muslim political agenda for Sudan. Sadiq al Mahdi had never objected to the sharia becoming the law of the land, but rather to the "un-Islamic" manner Nimeiri had used to implement the sharia through the September Laws. Thus, when Sadiq al Mahdi became prime minister in 1986, he was loath to become the leader who abolished the sharia in Sudan. Failing to appreciate the reasons for non-Muslim antipathy toward the sharia, Sadiq al Mahdi cooperated with his brother-in-law, NIF leader Turabi, to draft Islamic legal codes for the country. By the time Sadiq al Mahdi realized that ending the civil war and retaining the sharia were incompatible political goals, public confidence in his government had dissipated, setting the stage for military intervention. Following the June 1989 coup, Sadiq al Mahdi was arrested and kept in solitary confinement for several months. He was not released from prison until early 1991. Sadiq al Mahdi indicated approval of political positions adopted by the Umma Party during his detention, including joining with the SPLM and northern political parties in the National Democratic Alliance opposition grouping.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was similarly based on a religious order, the Khatmiyyah organization. Ever since the Khatmiyyah opposed the Mahdist movement in the 1880s, it has been a rival of the Ansar. Although the Khatmiyyah was more broadly based than the Ansar, it was generally less effective politically. Historically, the DUP and its predecessors were plagued by factionalism, stemming largely from the differing perspectives of secular-minded professionals in the party and the more traditional religious values of their Khatmiyyah supporters. The DUP leader and hereditary Khatmiyyah spiritual guide since 1968, Muhammad Uthman al Mirghani, tried to keep these tensions in check by avoiding firm stances on controversial political issues. In particular, he refrained from public criticism of Nimeiri's September Laws so as not to alienate Khatmiyyah followers who approved of implementing the sharia. In the 1986 parliamentary elections, the DUP won the second largest number of seats and agreed to participate in Sadiq al Mahdi's coalition government. Like Sadiq al Mahdi, Mirghani felt uneasy about abrogating the sharia, as demanded by the SPLM, and supported the idea that the September Laws could be revised to expunge the "un- Islamic" content added by Nimeiri.

By late 1988, however, other DUP leaders had persuaded Mirghani that the Islamic law issue was the main obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the civil war. Mirghani himself became convinced that the war posed a more serious danger to Sudan than did any compromise over the sharia. It was this attitude that prompted him to meet with Garang in Ethiopia where he negotiated a cease-fire agreement based on a commitment to abolish the September Laws. During the next six months leading up to the June 1989 coup, Mirghani worked to build support for the agreement, and in the process emerged as the most important Muslim religious figure to advocate concessions on the implementation of the sharia. Following the coup, Mirghani fled into exile and he has remained in Egypt. Since 1989, the RCC-NS has attempted to exploit DUP factionalism by coopting party officials who contested Mirghani's leadership, but these efforts failed to weaken the DUP as an opposition group.

The National Islamic Front (NIF)
The Muslim Brotherhood, which originated in Egypt, has been active in Sudan since its formation there in 1949. It emerged from Muslim student groups that first began organizing in the universities during the 1940s, and its main support base has remained the college educated. The Muslim Brotherhood's objective in Sudan has been to institutionalize Islamic law throughout the country. Hassan Abdallah al Turabi, former dean of the School of Law at the University of Khartoum, had been the Muslim Brotherhood's secretary general since 1964. He began working with Nimeiri in the mid-1970s, and, as his attorney general in 1983, played a key role in the controversial introduction of the sharia. After the overthrow of Nimeiri, Turabi was instrumental in setting up the NIF, a Brotherhood-dominated organization that included several other small Islamic parties. Following the 1989 coup, the RCC-NS arrested Turabi, as well as the leaders of other political parties, and held him in solitary confinement for several months. Nevertheless, this action failed to dispel a pervasive belief in Sudan that Turabi and the NIF actively collaborated with the RCC-NS. NIF influence within the government was evident in its policies and in the presence of several NIF members in the cabinet.

Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM)
The SPLA was formed in 1983 when Lieutenant Colonel John Garang of the SPAF was sent to quell a mutiny in Bor of 500 southern troops who were resisting orders to be rotated to the north. Instead of ending the mutiny, Garang encouraged mutinies in other garrisons and set himself at the head of the rebellion against the Khartoum government. Garang, a Dinka born into a Christian family, had studied at Grinnell College, Iowa, and later returned to the United States to take a company commanders' course at Fort Benning, Georgia, and again to earn advanced economics degrees at Iowa State University.

By 1986 the SPLA was estimated to have 12,500 adherents organized into twelve battalions and equipped with small arms and a few mortars. By 1989 the SPLA's strength had reached 20,000 to 30,000; by 1991 it was estimated at 50,000 to 60,000. Many members of the SPLA continued their civilian occupations, serving in individual campaigns when called upon. At least forty battalions had been formed, bearing such names as Tiger, Crocodile, Fire, Nile, Kalishnikov, Bee, Eagle, and Hippo.

The Republican Brothers
A small but influential religious party in the early 1980s was the Republican Brothers. A Sufi shaykh, Mahmud Muhammad Taha, founded the Republican Brothers in the 1950s as an Islamic reform movement stressing the qualities of tolerance, justice, and mercy. Taha came to prominence in 1983 when he opposed Nimeiri's implementation of the sharia as being contrary to the essence of Islam. He was arrested and subsequently executed for heresy in January 1985. The execution of such a widely revered religious figure--Taha was seventy-six--aroused considerable revulsion in Sudan and was one of the factors that helped precipitate the coup against Nimeiri. Although the Republican Brothers survived the loss of its leader and participated in the political process during the parliamentary period, it has not been politically active since 1989.

The Sudanese Communist Party (SCP)
The SCP was formed in 1944 and early established a strong support base in universities and labor unions. Although relatively small, the SCP had become one of the country's best organized political parties by 1956 when Sudan obtained its independence. The SCP also was one of the few parties that recruited members in the south. The various religiously affiliated parties opposed the SCP, and, consequently, the progression of civilian and military governments alternately banned and courted the party until 1971, when Nimeiri accused the SCP of complicity in an abortive military coup. Nimeiri ordered the arrest of hundreds of SCP members, and several leaders, including the secretary general, were convicted of treason in hastily arranged trials and summarily executed. These harsh measures effectively crippled the SCP for many years.

Following Nimeiri's overthrow, the SCP began reorganizing, and it won three seats in the 1986 parliamentary elections. Since the June 1989 coup, the SCP has emerged as one of the Bashir government's most effective internal opponents, largely through fairly regular publication and circulation of its underground newspaper, Al Midan. In November 1990, Babikr at Tijani at Tayib, secretary general of the banned SCP, managed to escape from house arrest and flee to Ethiopia.

The Baath Party
The Baath Party of Sudan was relatively small and sided with the Baath Party of Iraq in the major schism that divided this pan-Arab party into pro-Iraqi and pro-Syrian factions. The Baath remained committed to unifying Sudan with either Egypt or Libya as an initial step in the creation of a single nation encompassing all Arabic-speaking countries; however, the Baath's ideological reservations about the existing regimes in those two countries precluded active political support for this goal. The Nimeiri and Bashir governments alternately tolerated and persecuted the Baath. The RCC-NS, for example, arrested more than forty-five Baathists during the summer of 1990. Restrictions against the Baath were eased at the end of year, presumably because Sudan supported Iraq during the Persian Gulf War.

Southern Sudan Woman Nominated to African Union Legislative Assembly
By Linet Miriti, Programme Specialist, UNIFEM East and Horn of Africa Regional Office
Meet Jemma Kumba.

Jemma has just attended her first parliamentary session of the African Union Legislative Assembly in South Africa. Jemma is one of two women from the Sudan Government of National Unity who have been nominated to serve in the African Union Parliament, joining the likes of well-known African women such as Gertrude Mongella from Tanzania and Miria Matembe from Uganda.

In the Government of National Unity parliament in Sudan, this public administrator and political scientist chairs the Economic Affairs parliamentary committee whose mandate includes planning of economic policies, taking a lead in the general budget bill, examining final accounts of the state and the reports of the auditor general, and considering economic and financial bills and agreements, and commercial protocols. As for her role in the AU parliament, Jemma has already been selected to sit on the committee on cooperation for international relations and conflict resolution.

At 39 years of age, Jemma is likely to be the youngest MP in the AU parliament, but she is definitely up to the challenge. "As a woman, my multiple roles are a huge challenge. I have a family; I am a mother and a wife. I have to keep a balance at all times. But my family is very supportive, and this is what helps me manage all my roles." The challenge includes shuttling between Khartoum where she is based, Juba where she comes from, and Nairobi where part of her family is.

Jemma is a role model to South Sudan women, living proof that women can serve successfully at many different levels.

For more information on women's leadership in Sudan, contact Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, nyaradzai.gumbonzvanda [at] undp.org, or Ruth Kibiti, ruth.kibiti [at] undp.org

(Story Date: 16 December 2005)

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