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PROFILE: Sudan’s new Darfurian Vice-President


By Muhammad Osman

September 16, 2011 (NAIROBI) – 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 equally interesting views.

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Sudan’s newly appointed Vice President al-Haj Adam Youssef looks on after his oath-taking ceremony in Khartoum September 14, 2011 (REUTERS PICTURES)

A career university professor and a senior member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Youssef was named on 13 September as the country’s second vice-president to become the first person from the country’s western region of Darfur to hold such a powerful position.

The appointment of someone from Darfur, where an eight year conflict between the government and rebels group is yet to be resolved, was okayed by the government during Darfur peace talks in the Qatari capital of Doha.

The marathon talks culminated in the signing of Darfur peace agreement in July this year with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), one of the region’s rebel groups.

Khartoum however insisted that the appointee be a member of the ruling party and not one of Darfur rebel groups. Also it stressed the issue will not be mentioned in the text of the peace agreement.

Reactions to Youssef’s appointment have focused on the fact that he is from Darfur, and in the process largely overlooked the man’s political biography.

Early life

Youssef, 56, was born in a village in Id Al-Firsasn locality of South Darfur to a family of Beni Halba Arab tribe. He joined the prestigious university of Khartoum in 1974 and was graduated four years later with a bachelor degree in agricultural engineering. It was during his university years that Youssef joined the National Islamic Front (NIF).

Although being a member, those who knew him back then 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 master degree in 1984.

Beginning of a political career

Youssef began to solidify his involvement with the NIF after it seized power in an army-backed coup in 1989 against the government of former Prime Minister 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. Then he served as a 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 of the republic.

He managed however to persuade Hassan Al-Turabi, then the main ideologue and master of the government, to intervene in his favor and thus the crisis was defused.

Youssef later served as a minister of agriculture and forestry in the federal government and remained in his position until the 1999’s schism within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), at which point he had to take a side.

Siding with Al-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 who is the new First Vice President. He later 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 of Darfur escalated in February 2003.

A fugitive

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 back in the limelight during national elections in April 2010 after Al-Turabi’s party had nominated him to run in the gubernatorial elections in South Darfur State against the NCP’s candidate Abdul Hamid Musa Kasha.

He lost the election to his NCP competitor and he blamed his defeat on the PCP’s failure to finance his electoral campaign. This was just the harbinger of his problems with Al-Turabi.

Return to NCP

According to Sudan Tribune’s sources, Youssef began to vent frustration with the “sarcastic” way in which Al-Turabi responded to his proposals in party meetings. He used to say that Al-Turabi was “targeting him.”

As a result of his resentment to Al-Turabi, sources say, Youssef decided to quit the party and re-join the NCP.

On 13 November 2010, Youssef returned to the NCP and was appointed the political secretary of the party up to the date of his appointment as Second Vice President.

Political views

Youssef is known to be an opinionated man. He advocates the view that Sudan was never ruled equitably 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.


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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 17 September 2011 09:53, by Bush

    I can compare him to Dr. Lam Akol in the South Sudan according to what you described here.

    repondre message

    • 18 September 2011 10:33, by mathem jech amer

      This man was not a rebel but living inside Darfur. He has been shifting from & fro to NCP and back to Al-Turabi party. On the other hand, he is from Arab tribe.

      So do you people think he will serve the interest of Darfurians?

      repondre message

  • 17 September 2011 13:52, by Konan

    Both former Vice President of Sudan, late John Garang and Kirr, were fugitive too, so what?

    repondre message

    • 17 September 2011 16:12, by choldit

      Do you think he will serve the interest of Darfurians? This man has a lot to do with the Arab. He reads as he have no interest in defining his root and rescue his people from the those thougs.

      repondre message

  • 20 September 2011 03:52, by Cadaai ?o?

    Historian and Identity Advocacy View:

    In my personal view, I think North Sudan government needs to give other people their rights based on mutual respects. These regions of Abyei, South Kordufan, Blue Nile and Darfur are in need of rights to freedom of democracy in anyway possible. Because in North Sudan I don’t see where our former brothers and sisters in North Sudan would be able to control those regions responsibly without allow them to choose their own destinations or identity. Also, I think Northern Sudanese are still behind old days of politics where people use to give up easily. North Sudan, things are dramatically changing nowadays to different views towards new world system of choices. That’s just piece of my advise to our former brothers and sisters in North Sudan.
    To conclude my point, hello president Beshir, would you please leave my brothers and sisters of Abyei alone. If it is oil why you refuse them to come to South Sudan, to me that’s just a simple reason my former president. Your country of Northern Sudan has a lot of oil if your Administration would be able manage it well in regards to your people you represents. So please Mr. president Beshir leave Abyei for South Sudanese’ because I couldn’t see the reason why you take hostages of our people.Just let them come to South Sudan like what you have done to South Sudan few months back.
    Mr. Beshir, I am looking forward for your leadership based on truth and understandings of other people rights. Abyei people in North Sudan would be like someone mixing grains with sand when it comes to this people identity and history background shows where they should be.
    "Peaceful way is always better deserving to people than bloodshed way of precious bloods through wrong reason."

    repondre message

  • 5 March 2013 21:49, by maxwer

    Tremendous article, numerous good quality information. I am about to show my pals and ask them what they think.
    visit website

    repondre message

  • 21 May 2013 04:34, by ccocoo

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