In his address to an organisational assembly of the NCP farmers and herders sector on 16 December Nafie Ali Nafie, the deputy chairman of the NCP, ceded the practical inevitability of an independent South Sudan. Nafie’s statement in that sense is not particularly enlightening. Significantly though, Nafie promised a re-birth of Ingaz in post-secession North Sudan. In the same breath he blasted any suggestions of a transitional government that brings in opposition parties in the reduced version of Khartoum’s rule. Nafie equally brushed off the already evident marks of an economic downturn in the rump North, coining a new ‘nickname’ for the country to replace the failed notion of ‘the Arab world’s breadbasket’. Sudan according to Nafie is already ‘the world’s minerals basket’.
Well, economic optimism aside, bread riots have not visited the highly policed Khartoum yet, but have already raged the sleepy towns of the largely depopulated Northern regions of the country, namely Shendi and al-Matamma, the heartland of Nafie’s repeat Ingaz ambitions. Conscious of the urban unrest pre-emptively throttled in Khartoum Nafie responded to Turabi’s visions of a post-partition popular uprising in the style of October 1964 and April 1985 with the not necessarily invalid notion that the NCP has extended a hand to farmers and herders, the decisive majority of North Sudan’s population, which thus finds its interests well served in the continued dominance of the ruling party.
Nafie, conscious of the continued need to appease the party’s constituency, displays in his own way a degree of insight into the class dynamics of Sudan’s political geography that certainly transcends the grievance politics of many Northern opposition parties. The fact that the NCP dedicates an organisational sector to herders is in itself quite telling. Nevertheless, how is a re-birth of Ingaz imaginable in post-partition North Sudan? As much as a common enemy in Khartoum has provided a unifying factor for the Southern political elite the NCP’s domination has depended largely on the perception of the Southern Other who endangers the ‘organic’ unity of a default cohesive North Sudan. Nafie probably does not believe his own bluff, he is too shrewd for that, but he definitely knows how to sell it. Since the projection of an exterior enemy has as a rule provided Nafie’s Ingaz with its raison d'être a re-birth of the same can only take place through the continued invention and propagation of false enemies. The nearest candidates of course are the remains of Darfur’s rebel movements. Already the NCP media machine has hammered into popular consciousness the tale of a multi-layered plot joining the SPLM and a plethora of Darfur rebels. Even the incompetent Ibrahim Ahmed Omer, who rolled down from the leadership of the NCP to the nominal position of an advisor to the President, picked up his political self in an interview with al-Intibaha and joined the chorus singing the treachery of a the Juba-Darfur axis. Facing sharpening class contradictions in the heartland a repeat post-partition Ingaz in Khartoum can only point towards sustainable conflict.