Full Name: Al-Haj Adam Youssef
Date of Birth: 1955
Tribe: Beni Halba (Arab tribe)
Education: BSc Agricultural Engineering, University of Khartoum, 1974-1978; MA, TBC, UK.
Career: University Professor; Supervisor of Khartoum State “Popular Committees”, early 1990’s; Governor, Northern State, 1995-1997; Governor, South Darfur State 1997-1999; Minister of Agriculture, 1999; NCP Political Secretary, 13 Nov. 2010-13 Sept. 2011; Second Vice President of Sudan, 13 Sept. 2011-to date.
From a former fugitive to the holder of the third highest position in his country’s government, Sudan’s new vice-president Al-Haj Adam Youssef is a man of shifting political allegiances and opinions.
A career university professor and a senior member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Youssef was named on 13 September 2011 as the country’s second vice-president - the most powerful position ever to be held by someone from Sudan’s western Darfur region.
Khartoum, however, insisted that the appointee be a member of the ruling party and not someone from one of the Darfur rebel groups. The appointment was not mentioned in the text of the agreement nor is there any guarantee that the position of Second Vice President will be filled by a Darfuri.
Youssef was born in a village in Id Al-Firsasn locality of South Darfur to a family of the Beni Halba Arab tribe. He studied agricultural engineering at the University of Khartoum graduating with in 1978. It was during his university years that Youssef joined the National Islamic Front (NIF).
Although being a member, those who knew him say he was not closely involved with the NIF and somewhat distant from the party’s organisational bodies. After graduation, Youssef moved to the United Kingdom where he obtained a masters degree in 1984.
BEGINNING OF POLITICAL CAREER
Youssef began to solidify his involvement with the NIF after it seized power in an military-backed coup in 1989 against the government of Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi.
He rose to prominence as the NIF began to consolidate its grip on power in the early 1990s when he served as supervisor of the Khartoum state branch of the “popular committees,” a set of bodies established by the government to galvanize grassroots support.
The first high-profile position he held was the Governor of the Northern State from 1995 to 1997. He then served as the Governor of South Darfur State until 1999.
FALLOUT WITH THE PRESIDENCY
During his tenure as a Governor of South Darfur, Youssef was embroiled in a constitutional controversy when he announced the formation of his cabinet before that of the central government, prompting an angry response by the presidency.
He managed, however, to persuade Hassan Al-Turabi, then the main ideologue and master of the government and parliamentary speaker, to intervene in his favour defusing the crisis.
SIDING WITH TURABI
As Al-Turabi was being phased out of power, Youssef decided to quit his position and side with him against fellow Islamists, President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir and Ali Osman Taha, joined Al-Turabi’s breakaway group the Popular Congress Party (PCP).
Sources told Sudan Tribune that the main reason for his decision to join Al-Turabi was the failure of an initiative he led to reconcile Al-Turabi and Al-Bashir. Youssef was later actively involved in opposition to the government and especially after the crisis in Sudan’s western region Darfur escalated into conflict in February 2003.
In the same year, the government accused the PCP of plotting “a sabotage attempt” to topple the government. Youssef’s name and picture appeared publicly in the list of the “most wanted” for the alleged putsch but he dramatically managed to escape Sudan to neighboring Eritrea. He remained in exile until 2005 when he returned to Khartoum after he was acquitted of the charges against him.
BACK IN THE LIMELIGHT
Since his return, Youssef kept a low profile until he was nominated by the PCP to run as their candidate for South Darfur Governor in the April 2010 national elections, running against the NCP’s candidate Abdul Hamid Musa Kasha. After loosing Youssef blamed his defeat on the PCP’s failure to finance his campaign.
RETURN TO THE NCP
According to Sudan Tribune’s sources, Youssef began to become frustrated by the “sarcastic” way in which Al-Turabi responded to his proposals in PCP meetings, saying that Al-Turabi was “targeting him.” It was his resentment of Al-Turabi, sources told Sudan Tribune, that caused Youssef to quit the PCP and re-join the NCP on 13 November 2010.
Youssef is known to be an opinionated man. He advocates the view that Sudan has not been ruled at any point since independence, and that the Northern riverine Arabs have unfairly received better education, jobs and wealth at the expense of other Sudanese. Not exactly an opinion you would expect from a ruling party member.
Since becoming the Second Vice President of Sudan on 13 September 2011 Youssef has remained outspoken saying in January 2012 that “If necessary, Juba is not far” if the military decided to pursue the SPLM-N in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, which Khartoum claims are backed by South Sudan.
Researched by Muhammad Osman.
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