Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 22 February 2004

Turabi should realise that time is up


By Chege Mbitiru, The Nation

NAIROBI, Feb 23, 2004 —There is a turbaned and bearded dervish in Khartoum. He’s called Hassan al-Turabi. Normally the label dervish is tagged on an Islamic sect member riding a horse and whirling a sabre. In Mr. Turabi’s case, it’s whirling political sabres.

Mr. Turabi’s latest whirl is an insinuation of spinelessness by President Omar el-Bashir and Col. John Garang, leader of rebel Sudan Peoples Liberation Army/Movement, or SPLA/M to save bytes. Mr. Turabi chose an opportune moment. Negotiations to end south Sudan conflict were resuming.

Mr. Bashir and Mr. Garang are bowing to pressure from the United States to enter into a peace deal that favours secession for the south, Mr. Turabi said. He added a land-locked south wouldn’t be viable. Hogwash! There are nations with long shorelines and yet are paupers.

Of course the United States isn’t interested in a settlement for the love of Dinkas and their cattle. The money people in the States, who are prohibited by their government from dipping fingers in Sudan’s oil till, are busy lobbying.

Besides, Washington is a major contributor of money for relief in southern Sudan. This is directly or through other organizations, including United Nations agencies. No country likes putting money in a bottomless pit. If that’s reason for wanting a settlement, it’s a valid one.

Mr. Turabi, who is influential in Islamic scholarship, is right in implying the Bush Administration needs breakthroughs. It isn’t surprising the search for Osama bin Laden is on high gear. President George W. Bush is seeking a second term. His campaign is wobbly. A south Sudan settlement and Mr. Laden’s scalp won’t hurt.

Whatever Mr. Turabi says, SPLAM and Khartoum are at a point of no return. They have agreed on major issues, such as allowing the south a referendum six years after the signing a peace deal. Also agreed is wealth sharing formula and a security arrangement that should deter Khartoum from past wayward.

Mr. Turabi sees an anti-Islamic card in all this. According to him, there are those in Washington who would only want a united Sudan only if the south remains a cog in the country’s anti-Islamism machine. It’s unfortunate a person of Mr. Turabi’s intellect holds such a narrow view.

Unlike Sadiq el-Mahdi, whose ancestors butchered British General Charles Gordon in Khartoum, Mr. Turabi, 73, has no lineage in Sudan’s power aristocracy. He’s from Kassala. The town isn’t an intellectual hub. It’s just a dusty cluster of buildings. Among its inhabitants are descendants of Hausa pilgrims who never reached Mecca. If they did, home became too far. Islam is deeply rooted in Kasalla, though.

Mr. Turabi made it to Khartoum and obtained a degree in law. He proceeded to London and left with a master’s, again in law. From Soborne, France, it was a doctorate. He was back in Khartoum lecturing in law. Mr. Turabi is well versed in law and Islam.

Since 1964, Mr. Turabi has engaged in politics. He had skirmishes with different rulers and held various positions in government. The apex of his career came after nurturing the military take-over by General Hassan el-Bashir in 1989. From all accounts, Mr. Turabi became the power behind the throne.

A great deal of attention is paid to southern Sudan conflict. The rest of the country didn’t fair any better under Mr. Bashir, fronting for Mr. Turabi. While southerners died from the fighting, diseases and famine, equally abominable occurred in the north.

Popular political participation was zero. Freedom of assembly, speech and press were equally so. Security organs arbitrarily arrested and tortured dissenters. Discrimination on the basis of ethnicity was galore. While Mr. Bashir and Mr. Turabi strived to create an Islamic state, some Muslim sects were more equal than others.

Mr. Turabi earned notoriety by associating with Osama bin Laden. It was for the advancement of Islam. There is plenty of literature about Sudan’s support for groups that ended up in terror campaigns. With much devastation, these groups are heard from, now and then. Mr. Turabi can’t wash his hands off the mayhem. Innocent blood is shed and property destroyed.

If Sudanese people gained anything from Mr. Turabi’s volleys, only he knows. Mr. Bashir belatedly realized Mr. Turabi aimed at achieving more power to drive Sudan further down the drain. He tilted Mr. Turabi from his perch as speaker of parliament. Mr. Turabi isn’t close to a shadow of his former self.

Mr. Turabi is entitled to his opinion. But for a person of intellect who once wielded immense powers, he has little to show. He squandered opportunities by championing havoc in the name of Allah, who won’t approve. Mr. Turabi now calls Mr. Bashir a dictator, a sort of sabre whirling for democracy. Mr Turabi should be left to wallow in ignominious doldrums.

Mr Mbitiru, a freelance journalist, is a former ’Sunday Nation’ Managing editor

The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to comment@sudantribune.com

Sudan Tribune reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations.
Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

Implications of al-Bashir’s regime dismantling 2019-12-12 21:08:55 By Alhadi A. Khalifa The enactment of the law of dismantling the regime of Omar Albashir on 28 November 2019 represents a turning point in the march of the Sudanese revolution given its (...)

Security Arrangements in Sudan: Achilles heels of peace and democratic transformation 2019-12-10 05:47:59 By Elwathig Kameir This article is intended to act as an eye-opener for all the Sudanese political forces. It aims to shed light on the huge challenges that will be faced by the December (...)

Egypt final push to secure zero-sum water-share agreement 2019-12-09 14:11:32 By Ermias Hailu After Egypt’s failure to integrate Eritrea to its territories by the end of the second world war, due to Emperor Haile Selassie’s superior diplomatic skills, the then Egyptian Pan- (...)


Latest Press Releases

S. Korea supports UN communities building resilience project in Sudan’s Blue Nile 2019-09-09 09:26:41 UNDP Sudan September 5, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - An agreement was signed on 5th of September between the Korean Ambassador, His Excellency. Lee Ki-Seong and Dr. Selva Ramachandran, Resident (...)

Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders back calls for civil rule 2019-04-26 10:22:06 Press statement by 55 Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders on Sudan Sit-in and Peaceful Protest Khartoum -24/04/2019 We, the undersigned (55) Sudanese lawyers and human rights defenders, (...)

South Sudan’s Lafon youth condemn killings of civilians by Pari community 2019-04-03 21:54:29 Press Statement on the Fighting between Pari/ Pacidi and Lotuko/Lokiri on 24/3/2019 Release by The Lafon County Youth Union: We, the Lafon County Youth Union hereby condemn the atrocities and (...)


Copyright © 2003-2019 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.