In his address to the Shura Council meeting of the National Congress Party, a sort of extended central committee, last Thursday Bashir made the claim that he had forsaken unity for peace. The NCP is at great pains to make the event of partition look like a sly victory over a pernicious SPLM plot to overrun the whole of the country in a carnival of anti-Islamic rupture. Rephrased what Bashir has done was to forsake unity for the preservation of his office. Peace in NCPese is but a side effect of the scramble for power.
Faced with a self declared Misseriya government in Abyei, in the fashion of Southern Sudanese provisional governments in the sixties during the first Anya Nya war, Bashir had to sound tough at least on Abyei. He declared that no referendum would take place in the area without full participation of the Misseriya. Judging by the course of negotiations on the issue his declaration is for all practical purposes just hot air. A referendum in Abyei seems to be off the table anyway. Discussions are rather focused on a convenient arrangement bypassing the referendum, possibly in the direction of a division of the region between Misseriya and Dinka Ngok.
Bashir the sovereign suffered last week two major slaps in the face. Libya and the Central African Republic both asked him to stay at home and save them unnecessary embarrassment with Western guests. Particularly disappointing was Libya’s position, a major second after Libya refusal to hand over its major Sudanese resident, JEM’s Khalil Ibrahim, to the Sudanese security authorities.
For the time being the man on top can only count on the promise of American ‘cookies’ as a voucher for his future, cookies that seem addressed to his deputy, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha. The hyenas in the NCP are surely fully cognisant of his current weakness. For good and for evil Bashir’s solid constituency remain the army and not the party. The army though, with no Southern Sudan rebellion to fight, needs to invest in a new argument for maintenance of its hegemony. Inside the NCP not necessarily all are at ease with the army’s superiority. Particularly the business-minded see in army contracts, leases and monopolies a lucrative attraction worthy of their involvement. Considering the retraction of oil revenues, whereby el-Fula’s addition of a meagre 30 000 bpd offers little solace, the commissions economy around real-estate and government bids is expectedly to provide the major source of extraction in a post-secession North Sudan. In such a situation competition between state-nurtured NCP elites for chunks of the cake will likely sharpen and with it the appetite of NCP hyenas for the reshaping of power relationships, involving possibly the top office. Now, Bashir’s coming game is how to play the NIF ikhwan against each other and remain safe at the helm. At that he has proved till now judiciously adept.