Magazine article History Today

Opening of the Sudanese Parliament January 1st, 1954

Magazine article History Today

Opening of the Sudanese Parliament January 1st, 1954

Article excerpt

THE FIRST-EVER parliament of the Sudan was opened in Khartoum by the British governor-general, Sir Robert Howe, who praised the way in which a population unused to democracy had coped with the elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate. Unfortunately, the good fairy did not attend the ceremony.

The Sudan had long been run by British officials under cover of an Anglo-Egyptian condominium, but nationalism bloomed in both the Sudan and Egypt during the Second World War. In 1951 the Egyptians declared themselves sole rulers of the Sudan. The following year, however, the British and Egyptian governments agreed to allow elections for a Sudanese parliament and interim administration under a British governor-general, with the proviso that after three years the Sudanese could decide for full independence. The Egyptians felt confident of controlling the Sudan in cahoots with the Sudanese National Unionist Party.

The National Unionists duly won the 1953 election, their leader; Ismail al-Azhari, became prime minister and parliament was adjourned until March 1st while ministers settled into their new posts. When the day came, fighting broke out in Khartoum between pro-Egyptian demonstrators and tribesmen brought into the city by the Umma Party, which wanted total independence and accused the government of aiming at union with Egypt. …

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