Prof. Hassan Mekki On Current Political Issues

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (SUDANOW)—The complexities of the political scene in the backdrop of the government's call for reform and renewed call for the national dialogue, emergence of the religious extremism and impact of the situation in South Sudan and Libya on Sudan were all elucidated in a dialogue SUDANOW conducted with Horn of Africa expert, professor of Political Sciences at the African University and Muslim thinker Hassan Mekki.

SUDANOW: How do you assess the Sudan's present political situation and the call for reform?
MEKKI: The present government officials, including the officials whom I know, are, as individuals, among the best of the Sudanese people but, as an institution, the government is characterized by poor performance and does not operate as a team. The governors are isolated islands and so are the legislative councils; there is no sincerity in addressing corruption and mismanagement. Take as an example, failure of the White Nile sugar factory to operate on the very day of its inauguration. A committee of inquiry was formed under the chairmanship of Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, the current speaker of the National Assembly, but look..........
Q: Interruption…It is true that there are failures and mistakes and the government has announced plans for reform. What are the requirements of this reform and the prospects of its success?
A: There are prospects for success but they require measures for reorganization of the structure of the government as ever since the independence all powers have been placed in the hands of the president – he is the supreme commander of the armed forces, the police and the security, the chairman of the ruling party, the sponsor of the higher education, the African University and everything, although he is a human-being who works eight hours a day. Moreover, he takes part in conferences, reads the newspapers and lives like other people; practically, he cannot exercise all these powers. Take, for instance, Egypt, despite its dictatorial and repressive regime, has a prime minister, a parliament and organs that subject the ministers to accountability. Every country in the world has a prime minister who discharges tremendous assignments. It is difficult to fight corruption in this situation.
Q: Do you think it is necessary to create a premiership?
- Yes, because there will be a constitutional presidency with limited powers. The President is not a dictator but all powers have been placed in his hands and there are some persons who act without his authorization. In such circumstances it is difficult to combat corruption and to identify a political or economic crime. It is difficult to subject any corporation founded on presidential decrees and directives to accountability even if they violate the financial and administrative principles and rules.
Q: Do you think the state needs an opposition?


- There is no opposition, not even political elite, not even within the ranks of the National Congress Party (NCP). The media, let alone the opposition, has not been invited for a briefing on how the political process is being carried out within the party.
Q: But there are the Leadership Council and the Shura Council of the ruling party.
-Do we feel their existence on the ground? Looking at the nations around us, I know how the politics is practiced through media. In those countries there are executive and legislative organs, each with separate powers.
Q: Why couldn't the political forces get together since Independence?
- Some of those who are called upon for the national dialogue are over 80 years of age, there is an age gap between them and the youths, but people got fed up with those elderly politicians because they have nothing new to add and their representatives have been practicing politics since 1965 before your birth. In the past, foreigners were attracted for business in the Sudan, but now the youth migration characterized the Sudanese society because the rate of unemployment is growing fast and if not for the discovery of gold, the situation could have been catastrophic.
Q: What is the way-out? Do you believe the solution can be through the external mediation?
- This is the problem …internationalization of the solution for a country like the Sudan where political elite has been practicing politics since 1956; how come that such a country cannot resolve its problems. Thabo Mbeki who has been sent by the international community for solving the Sudan's problems, when has he practiced politics? It is puzzling that someone comes to us from South Africa to solve the problems of a country which used to assert that Islam is the solution and then hustles behind Mbeki and behind UNAMID for finding a solution to the Darfur problem, failing to resolve its domestic questions.
Q: How can the war in South Sudan affects the Sudan People's Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N)?
- The SPLM-N is an offshoot of the SPLM of South Sudan and Salva Kiir depends heavily on the people of the Nuba Mountains to an extent that their pullout will weaken his military competence even if he resorts to the Ugandan military backing. On the other hand, the SPLA has directly been affected by the ongoing war.
Q: There are reports that the Libyan Tubruq government manipulates a number of Darfur movements. How do you assess the situation in Libya and its impact on the region?


- The policy of the Sudanese government towards Libya is wise. The most powerful government in Libya is the one that operates from Tripoli. The Egyptians who want to travel back home do this via the airports of Tripoli, Miaitigah, Musratah and Khartoum and then Cairo. The future is for the Libyan Fujr Movement rather than Hafter group which relies on the petroleum of the South and on support by few Arab states.
Q: How do you evaluate the current negotiations on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?
- The Sudan relies on it for making the electric power deficit good. But we do not have adequate and accurate data on that Dam and there are conflicting viewpoints between the former and present Sudanese ministries of irrigation about it. The Sudanese thinking is politically oriented, though our relationship with Ethiopia is better than ever and with Egypt it is based on mistrust. Egypt, for instance, has delayed fulfillment of its promise of releasing the Sudanese nationals in Halayb while the Sudan has released the Egyptian fishermen. While the Sudan has implemented the four-freedom agreement, Egypt still procrastinates on the issue. The policies with Egypt and Ethiopia are not subjected to the due scientific discussion.
Q: How do you view the impact of the recent visit to Sudan by the American Muslim thinker, Haj Majid, of a Sudanese stock?
- He made no impact; he is not an originator and has not proposed any suggestion for fighting and checking the extremism. The Sudanese press has made his visit an important event; something which serves the US policy.
Q: Is the jihadist Salafi movement the highest degree of piousness?


- No. It is one of the failures of the salafi thinking. The Islamic culture is wide-open and accepts diversity and differing viewpoints and considerations. In the Sudan there was the Islamic Institute which developed into the Islamic University, while the salafi is an exceptional case. Wahabism has become active upon the emergence of the financial empire following the flow of petroleum in Saudi Arabia. The salafi has no firm foundations compared with the Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Sufi doctrines, but has gained credibility due to its confrontation with the Western and globalization plots and the foreign invasion of Iraq and Syria. The Sudan is not a suitable soil for salafi which is less than 50 years old and adopted by a limited number of individuals in separate periods of time, while the Islamic faith has entered the Sudan in 651.

Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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