Governance and Conflict in the Sudan, 1985-1995: Analysis, Evaluation and Documentation

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Governance and Conflict in the Sudan, 1985-1995: Analysis, Evaluation and Documentation, by Peter Nyot Kok. Hamburg: Deutsches Orient-Institut, 1996. 220 pages. Bibl. to p. 229. Appends. to p. 382. n.p.

Reviewed by Richard P. Stevens

Because this book is an integral part of a larger work, part of which was first published in 1993 as a series of essays that are referred to or quoted only when appropriate, the reader may be at a loss to understand the evolution of the Southern Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), its various splinter groups and off-shoots, and the willingness of some of these groups to collaborate with the Khartoum authorities. In what is otherwise a very lucid presentation and analysis of events in the Sudan since President Ja`far Numayri's overthrow in April 1985, it is not at all clear why the southern Sudanese have failed over the past decade to confront the northern forces of hegemony with a unified voice.

Divided into six chapters, Governance and Conflict in the Sudan notes that, following the Numayri overthrow, the 1986 elections produced a constituent assembly dominated by the "forces of hegemony," namely, the traditional riverine northerners who inherited state and economic power from the British colonialists. During the transitional period from April 1985 to May 1986, when Sadiq al-Mahdi was returned to power, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) made no effort to amend those decrees issued by Numayri and his government, which had undermined the Southern Provinces Self-Government Act of 1972. In fact, several members of the TMC were well-known Muslim Brothers, members of which were reorganized as the National Islamic Front (NIF), headed by Hasan al-Turabi.

Nor did the advent to power of Sadiq al-Mahdi of the Umma Party bring real promise of genuine acknowledgement of southern aspirations, and thus the civil war continued unabated. The Umma-NIF coalition, which ruled from December 1988 to March 1989, made no serious effort to address the vital issues facing the Sudan, namely, the nature of the state, the system of government, the peace-time military and security arrangements, and whether the Sudan should be one entity or divided into several regions within a united Sudan. …