Sudan - Leadership



After the 1989 coup, Bashir moved to monopolize power within his 15-member Revolutionary Council. He dissolved parliament, established a state of emergency and a curfew in Khartoum, suspended all political activities, and freed 14 army officers who had been arrested earlier for plotting Mahdi's overthrow. He promoted himself to brigadier general and declared himself prime minister, defense minister, and commander in chief of the armed forces. He also purged the military of dozens of officers who were thought to have loyalties to the old regime, thereby cementing his own position of dominance vis-a-vis the military. Bashir appointed officers loyal to him to head the air force, the infantry institute, and military intelligence. He then traveled throughout the country to solidify his position by reappointing regional governors that would support him.

By 1990, Bashir had formed an alliance with the National Islamic Front (NIF), an Islamic fundamentalist party led by Hassan al-Turabi; the two men remained the country's most powerful political figures throughout the decade, even after the nominal restoration of civilian government in 1993. Al-Turabi served as the political and ideological leader of the country's program of Islamization, while Bashir maintained the military power behind the government. In December 1999 a growing power struggle between the two men led to the removal of al-Turabi and the appointment of new political leadership by President Bashir. In February 2001 Turabi was arrested on charges of obstructing the implementation of the Constitution, waging war against the state, and attempting to topple the government through force. He was released in October 2001 but was kept under house arrest for security reasons. In August 2002, 26 members of al-Turabi's People's National Congress Party were arrested for creating disorder, obstructing the ongoing peace process, and leading the country into "killing and destruction." Six months later, six of those being held were released from prison without further explanation.

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