Thursday, 6 May 2010

The troubled Sayyid

Last Thursday the NCP in a statement made by Ibrahim Ghandoor welcomed the readiness of Mohamed Osman al Mirghani, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) chief and Khatmiyya leader, to participate in the coming government awaiting announcement. Mirghani had never refused the notion of participation in government outright. He however had angry words to say in Khartoum airport before leaving for an Egypt/Saudi Arabia trip right after declaration of election results. Apparently he was frustrated at the bad manners of the NCP which declined to provide him with any mentionable breathing space in the election market. Presumably the Egyptian and Saudi patrons pushed him back into NCP arms without further ado. Whatever the particularities of the deal may be the old party is probably in for a not so major a feast. The most generous of reports suggest an offer of four ministerial portfolios plus/minus with no mention of the lucrative governor posts.

The DUP has already suffered repetitive blows from the predator NCP. It has become difficult over the past years to keep track with the number of splinter factions and break-off groups dropping out of the DUP. The home-coming of the old Sayyid back to Sudan after years of ‘exile’ was expected to reverse the tide of splintering, an expectation that failed to materialise. The party remains in shatters. Even its vintage name from its blossoming era under Ismail al Azhari, the National Unionist Party, has been hijacked by a splinter group claiming consistency with the ‘florid’ past. Today the party is only recognisable as itself through the adjunct ‘original’ after its name, in the same manner Khartoum’s mechanics pride with ‘original’ Japanese spare parts in contradistinction to cheaper versions ‘Made in China’.

The demise of the ‘New Sudan’ as promised by the late John Garang, the man who persistently courted the old Sayyid during the life-span of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and kept him relatively insulated from aggressive NCP flirts, resulted in the direct delivery of Mirghani into NCP arms, and worse still, decisive regional pressures. Today it seems, even the prospects of renewed silence in exile are limited. Neither Saudi Arabia nor Egypt is ready to accommodate a grumpy Sayyid. They would rather see him shaking hands with Bashir and losing yet more fingers.

The irony of the Sayyid’s situation is that he was the man so close to signing a home-made breakthrough peace agreement with John Garang in 1988/1989 promising unity rather than secession if it wasn’t for the NIF’s overnight takeover. Today he may have to be satisfied with an ultra-junior position in an NCP/SPLM government probably presiding over secession, the Asmara Declaration (1995) notwithstanding.

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Creative Commons Licence
This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.