Considerable analytic energy has been consumed in the debate on the viability of a sovereign South Sudan; a concern that is legitimate albeit guided by a myopic approach to an issue of regional geo-political consequence. Apart from the expectation that movements in other regions in the Sudan, Darfur for instance, and possibly the Nuba Mountains, may follow the Southern example and demand self determination or an arrangement that ensures a version of self-rule, scenarios for a post-partition North Sudan are rare to come by. One reason for this I suppose is the relative scarcity of information on NCP politics.
In popular opinion the NCP is perceived either as an all encompassing power-machine or a conglomerate of thugs depending where you stand politically. The opposition has invested long and persistently in the discredit of the ruling party, and the NCP itself has favoured and promoted the popular notion of its superiority.
In terms of tactics, organisation and funding the NCP is certainly superior to any other opposition party. However since the effective dissolution of the Islamic Movement shortly after the 1989 coup and the fall of Turabi in 1999 the ruling party has been running short on vision and perspective, surviving rather on the bankruptcy of its adversaries and the momentum of state administration. In a largely nominal conference of the state-loyal wing of the Islamic Movement in August 2008 Ghazi Salah Eldin, the only candidate to challenge Ali Osman Mohamed Taha for chairmanship of the Movement, presented quite a bleak reading of the ideological well-being of the Movement that brought the Salvation Revolution to fruition. Ghazi highlighted the widespread disillusion among the rank and file caused by the 1999 split and the organisational loss of the old Islamic Movement in the military-civilian power arrangements of the NCP. Notably Ghazi stressed the intellectual impoverishment of the Movement which seemed to have lost with its veteran chief, Hassan al-Turabi, its once attractive improvisation at approximating Islam and modernity.
Although a formidable intellectual Ghazi could not cultivate sufficient authority and creativity to supplant the NCP Islamists with the religiously reasoned vigour they needed. He was soon swept back into the everyday of NCP political vegetation and consequently ignored the strategic concerns he raised in his 2008 paper. A fellow of Ghazi in the Movement, party and government, Amin Hassan Omer, contributed a rhetorical piece that sounded more like Soviet self-celebration. However he made the reasonable claim that the Sudanese Islamic Movement in power had successfully established the ideological hegemony of political Islam vis-à-vis competing liberal or leftist political outlooks. What Omer failed to acknowledge was that the Islamic Movement, as its predecessors in power, had failed in renegotiating the post-colony without surrendering its existence. In a sense the Islamic Movement challenged the post-colony in the name of Islam but failed in generating its national alternative. What it has established is the sunna of escape from the clutches of its grip by insurgency, and the re-alignment of its contours by negotiation. The central notion of the state as a super-patron however remains intact, and will likely do so in the emergent South Sudan.
Lacking the vision of its predecessor, the National Islamic Front, the NCP today has degenerated into a convenience arrangement between powerful figures heading respective interest blocs, Nafie Ali Nafie controlling the party, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha ruling over the state bureaucracy, Salah Gosh enjoying the loyalty of the para-military security departments, and Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein running the army. The man on the top is paradoxically all powerful yet terribly susceptible.