|Jaafar (L) and his father Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani (R)|
President Bashir issued a decree late Tuesday appointing his new team of assistants and advisors, the prelude to the announcement of the long awaited post-secession government. Jaafar al-Sadiq (b. 1973), the younger son of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) chief and Khatmiya patron Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani, and Abd al-Rahman (b. 1966), the eldest son of the National Umma Party (NUP) boss and Ansar imam Sadiq al-Mahdi, were named presidential assistants along with Nafie Ali Nafie, Musa Ahmed Mohamed and Jalal Yusif al-Digeir. As advisors the President picked Ibrahim Ahmed Omer, Ghazi Salah al-Din, Mustafa Osman Ismail, Ahmed Bilal Osman, Farida Ibrahim Hussein, Raja Hassan Khalifa, and Mohamed al-Hassan Mohamed Masaad.
The ladies and gentlemen of the Presidency took the oath on Wednesday in Khartoum. Speaking to the press after the proceedings Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi stated that he had accepted the President’s appointment in his capacity as an officer of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), and not a representative of the NUP or the person of the Imam. First Lieutenant Abd al-Rahman was sacked from the service in 1989 when President Bashir deposed his father, the prime minister. He was reappointed a colonel in the military sports branch of the army late in 2010. Jaafar, did not need such a twist; to his side stood his father’s right hand man, Mohamed al-Hassan Masaad, who was named presidential advisor. Jaafar left the Sudan in 1991 to study in London. He returned to the country in 2008 together with his father.
An Intibaha journalist described President Bashir’s choice of assistants in the following terms, “youth in the Palace but not from the NCP” reference being to the President’s pledge to empower the younger generation of the ruling party. Phrased differently, the ambitious and loyal middle ranks of the NCP are unlikely to be particularly thrilled with the President’s pick. The success of the Islamic Movement, and its current embodiment the NCP, is at a certain level a consequence of the slow but sure deterioration of the political and economic domination of the DUP and the NUP, Sudan’s two prominent faith-business networks. As an emergent power, the Islamic Movement invested considerable ideological effort in the discredit of the allegiances that bind a decisive mass of the Sudanese to the Mirghanis and the Mahdis. The ‘rebel’ educated sons and daughters of the Khatmiya and the Ansar flocked to the Movement attracted by its ‘modernist’ dispositions, fresh re-interpretation of Islamic scriptures, and transformative potential.
Today, the NCP is a mature hegemon, but nonetheless an exhausted one perked on the plateau of its power, and hence the ambivalent implications of President Bashir’s recourse to Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani and Sadiq al-Mahdi to buttress his legitimacy. Exactly because the Islamic Movement has managed to challenge the Mirghanis and the Mahdis on their own terms, faith and patronage, the two sayyids are no more in a position to recharge Bashir’s critically low batteries. The gesture of promoting the junior sayyids, Jaafar and Abd al-Rahman, to high office is dually abortive, a caricature enacted. The Mirghanis and Mahdis risk expending even more of their political capital, and Bashir is unlikely to gain much from bringing into his entourage two clueless novices dispatched for training on the job.