The leader of Sudan’s Popular Congress Party, Dr. Hassan al-Turabi, has cast doubt on the viability of a unified Sudan, saying ‘’Sudan is a composition of people [with] no common history as a people or as a nation or [as] a country…”
Al Turabi told VOA the country’s diversity of religion, cultures and languages has made it impossible to unify Sudan. The result, according to Turabi, will be the likely disintegration of Sudan after the January 9, 2011 referendum if, as expected, southern Sudan votes for independence.
‘’This is not a country which has known dictatorship in history, but it is a little bit libertarian because it is in a continent where people are mostly rural and free, “ Turabi says.
Turabi has been a central player in Sudanese politics for decades and is instrumental in bringing Islamic Sharia law to the country. He helped bring President Hassan al-Bashir to power in 1989, and served in various government positions, including as speaker of the National Assembly in the 1990s. In the late 1990s he began criticizing the government and has been jailed on several occasions.
Turabi also said that Sudan’s failure to democratize is another reason for the country’s unraveling. He blames three military coup d’états for overthrowing democratically elected governments since the country gained independence on January 1, 1955. This has lead to a concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the central government which, he says, encouraged rebellions throughout Sudan, and particularly in the south.
The north and south have been engaged in successive civil wars since Sudan gained its independence and Turabi accuses the military governments of failing to honor peace agreements, thus giving a justification to southern nationalists and the desire of people in the south to separate from north.
Another factor, he said, working against achieving a truly unified Sudan is decentralized regional governments. The governments have sought a measure of self-rule from Khartoum in an attempt to address disparities in wealth and development between the different regions of Sudan. He says Sudan’s diversity requires a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources.