According to the prevailing Grationate design securing a win for Bashir & Co on the national level provides a guarantee for the ‘smooth’ conduction of the scheduled referendum on the future of Southern Sudan, and on the other end, endangering the current balance of power may jeopardise the major gains of the CPA, peace and referendum.
The argument is simple and straightforward; Bashir signed and thus should be signed in till fulfilment of pledges. However what the argument fails to capture is the inherent dynamic set free by the CPA despite flaws and gaps.
First: the NCP entering the elections is not necessarily the NCP emerging from it. In the evolving socio-economic environment post-CPA realignment of patronage bonds within the NCP has created several platforms of dissatisfaction, loudly apparent in Gedaref and Gezira over the past year. Nafie Ali Nafie’s control sweep over the past months may have silenced these temporarily; nevertheless bills have to be paid if the NCP is to rule unbothered from within. The election process and the outcome of the election provide further ground for manoeuvring within the NCP between competing factions, regional at most, but also at top leadership level.
Second: irrespective of the vote and Bashir’s expected ‘landslide’ the NCP is hard-pressed to forge alliances beyond the SPLM if it is to secure its rule over the remaining interim period. The penultimate dream of Islamist hegemony would be an all North coalition with NCP in the spearhead and DUP and Umma at the flanks, one that is not all too improbable, if Bashir remains adamant on refusing Turabi’s re-entry, an alternative entertained by some on both side of the Islamist rift.
Third: Bashir may have temporarily silenced Darfuri guns through the remerging Ndjamena-Khartoum axis. Nevertheless, as long as no lasting peace agreement is achieved the current political process offers Darfur no more than crumbs; a resurgence of warfare thus retains attraction.
Third: in his campaign for presidency the incumbent has been riding the national roller-coaster less so the partisan NCP line, however with one major contradiction, in the South quick to promise timely conduction of the referendum and commitment to its outcome, and in the North championing the cause of unity. For the time being he seems capable of pleasing many, including Mr Gration, but which word will he hold?