Rise of Sudanese Nationalism
Sudanese nationalism, as it developed after World War I, was
an Arab and Muslim phenomenon with its support base in the northern
provinces. Nationalists opposed indirect rule and advocated a
centralized national government in Khartoum responsible for both
regions. Nationalists also perceived Britain's southern policy
as artificially dividing Sudan and preventing its unification
under an arabized and Islamic ruling class.
Ironically, however, a non-Arab led Sudan's first modern nationalist
movement. In 1921 Ali Abd al Latif, a Muslim Dinka and former
army officer, founded the United Tribes Society that called for
an independent Sudan in which power would be shared by tribal
and religious leaders. Three years later, Ali Abd al Latif's movement,
reconstituted as the White Flag League, organized demonstrations
in Khartoum that took advantage of the unrest that followed Stack's
assassination. Ali Abd al Latif's arrest and subsequent exile
in Egypt sparked a mutiny by a Sudanese army battalion, the suppression
of which succeeded in temporarily crippling the nationalist movement.
In the 1930s, nationalism reemerged in Sudan. Educated Sudanese
wanted to restrict the governor general's power and to obtain
Sudanese participation in the council's deliberations. However,
any change in government required a change in the condominium
agreement. Neither Britain nor Egypt would agree to a modification.
Moreover, the British regarded their role as the protection of
the Sudanese from Egyptian domination. The nationalists feared
that the eventual result of friction between the condominium powers
might be the attachment of northern Sudan to Egypt and southern
Sudan to Uganda and Kenya. Although they settled most of their
differences in the 1936 Treaty of Alliance, which set a timetable
for the end of British military occupation, Britain and Egypt
failed to agree on Sudan's future status.
Nationalists and religious leaders were divided on the issue
of whether Sudan should apply for independence or for union with
Egypt. The Mahdi's son, Abd ar Rahman al Mahdi, emerged as a spokesman
for independence in opposition to Ali al Mirghani, the Khatmiyyah
leader, who favored union with Egypt. Coalitions supported by
each of these leaders formed rival wings of the nationalist movement.
Later, radical nationalists and the Khatmiyyah created the Ashigga,
later renamed the National Unionist Party (NUP), to advance the
cause of Sudanese-Egyptian unification. The moderates favored
Sudanese independence in cooperation with Britain and together
with the Ansar established the Umma Party.
Data as of June 1991