History of SudanSudan



Sudan was a collection of small, independent kingdoms and principalities from the beginning of the Christian era until 1820-21, when Egypt conquered and unified the northern portion of the country. Historically, the pestilential swamps of the Suud discouraged expansion into the deeper south of the country. Although Egypt claimed all of the present Sudan during most of the 19th century, it was unable to establish effective control over southern Sudan, which remained an area of fragmented tribes subject to frequent attacks by slave raiders. In 1881, a religious leader named Muhammad ibn Abdalla proclaimed himself the Mahdi, or the “expected one,” and began a religious crusade to unify the tribes in western and central Sudan. His followers took on the name “Ansars” (the followers) which they continue to use today and are associated with the single largest political grouping, the Umma Party, led by the descendant of the Mahdi, Sadiq al Mahdi.

Taking advantage of conditions resulting from Ottoman-Egyptian exploitation and maladministration, the Mahdi led a nationalist revolt culminating in the fall of Khartoum in 1885. The Mahdi died shortly thereafter, but his state survived until overwhelmed by an Ango-Egyptian force under Lord Kitchener in 1898. Sudan was proclaimed a condominium in 1899 under British-Egyptian administration. While maintaining the appearance of joint administration, the British Empire formulated policies, and supplied most of the top administrators.



Independence





In February 1953, the United Kingdom and Egypt concluded an agreement providing for Sudanese self-government and self-determination. The transitional period toward independence began with the inauguration of the first parliament in 1954. With the consent of the British and Egyptian Governments, Sudan achieved independence on January 1, 1956, under a provisional constitution. The United States was among the first foreign powers to recognize the new state. However, the Arab-led Khartoum government reneged on promises to southerners to create a federal system, which led to a mutiny by southern army officers that sparked 17 years of civil war (1955-72).

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Civil Strife





In 1955, southern resentment of northern Muslim Arab domination culminated in a mutiny among southern troops in Equatoria Province. For the next 17 years, the southern region experienced civil strife, and various southern leaders agitated for regional autonomy or outright secession. This chronic state of insurgency against the central government was suspended in 1972 after the signing of the Addis Ababa Accords granting southern Sudan wide regional autonomy on internal matters. But a 1983 decree by President Nimeiri that declared his intention to transform Sudan into a Muslin Arab state, and divided the south into three regions and instituted Shari’a law, revived southern opposition and militant insurgency. After the 1985 coup, the new government rescinded this decree and made other significant overtures aimed at reconciling north and south but did nor rescind the so-called September Laws of the Nimeiri regime instituting Shari’a Law.

In May 1986, the Sadiq al-Mahdi government began peace negotiations with the SPLA, led by Col. John Garang de Mabior. In that year the SPLA and a number of Sudanese political parties met in Ethiopia and agreed to the “Koka Dam” declaration, which called for abolishing Islamic law and convening a constitutional conference. In 1988, the SPLA and the DUP agreed on a peace plan calling for the abolition of military pacts with Egypt and Libya, freezing of Islamic law, an end to the state of emergency, and a cease-fire.

A constitutional conference would then be convened. Following an ultimatum from the armed forces in February 1989, the Sadiq al-Mahdi government approved this peace plan and engaged in several rounds of talks with the SPLA. A constitutional conference was tentatively planned for September 1989. The military government, which took over on June 30, 1989, however, repudiated the DUP/SPLA agreement and state it wished to negotiate with the SPLA without preconditions.

Negotiating sessions in August and December 1989 brought little progress. The SPLA is in control of large areas of Equatoria, Bahr al Ghazal, and Upper Nile provinces and also operates in the southern portions of Darfur, Kordofan, and Blue Nile provinces. The government controls a number of the major southern towns and cities, including Juba, Wau, and Malakal. An informal cease-fire in May broke down in October 1989, and fighting has continued since then.

In August 1991, internal dissention among the rebels led opponents of Colonel Garang’s leadership of the SPLA to form the so-called Nasir faction of the rebel army. In September 1992, William Nyuon Bany formed a second rebel faction, and in February 1993, Kerubino Kwanyin Bol formed a third rebel faction. On April 5, 1993, the three dissident rebel factions announced a coalition of their groups called SPLA United at a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya. After 1991, the factions clashed occasionally and thus, the rebels lost much of their credibility with the West.

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