The Road to Independence
As World War II approached, the SDF assumed the mission of guarding
Sudan's frontier with Italian East Africa (present-day Ethiopia).
During the summer of 1940, Italian forces invaded Sudan at several
points and captured Kassala. However, the SDF prevented a further
advance on Port Sudan. In January 1941, the SDF, expanded to 20,000
troops, retook Kassala and participated in the British offensive
that routed the Italians in Eritrea and liberated Ethiopia. Some
Sudanese units later contributed to the British Eighth Army's
North Africa victory.
In the immediate postwar years, the condominium government made
a number of significant changes. In 1942 the Graduates' General
Conference, a quasi-nationalist movement formed by educated Sudanese,
presented the government with a memorandum that demanded a pledge
of self-determination after the war to be preceded by abolition
of the "closed door" ordinances, an end to the separate curriculum
in southern schools, and an increase in the number of Sudanese
in the civil service. The governor general refused to accept the
memorandum but agreed to a governmentsupervised transformation
of indirect rule into a modernized system of local government.
Sir Douglas Newbold, governor of Kurdufan Province in the 1930s
and later the executive council's civil secretary, advised the
establishment of parliamentary government and the administrative
unification of north and south. In 1948, over Egyptian objections,
Britain authorized the partially elected consultative Legislative
Assembly representing both regions to supersede the advisory executive
The pro-Egyptian NUP boycotted the 1948 Legislative Assembly
elections. As a result, pro-independence groups dominated the
Legislative Assembly. In 1952 leaders of the Umma-dominated legislature
negotiated the Self-Determination Agreement with Britain. The
legislators then enacted a constitution that provided for a prime
minister and council of ministers responsible to a bicameral parliament.
The new Sudanese government would have responsibility in all areas
except military and foreign affairs, which remained in the British
governor general's hands. Cairo, which demanded recognition of
Egyptian sovereignty over Sudan, repudiated the condominium agreement
in protest and declared its reigning monarch, Faruk, king of Sudan.
After seizing power in Egypt and overthrowing the Faruk monarchy
in late 1952, Colonel Muhammad Naguib broke the deadlock on the
problem of Egyptian sovereignty over Sudan. Cairo previously had
linked discussions on Sudan's status to an agreement on the evacuation
of British troops from the Suez Canal. Naguib separated the two
issues and accepted the right of Sudanese self-determination.
In February 1953, London and Cairo signed an Anglo-Egyptian accord,
which allowed for a three-year transition period from condominium
rule to self-government. During the transition phase, British
and Egyptian troops would withdraw from Sudan. At the end of this
period, the Sudanese would decide their future status in a plebiscite
conducted under international supervision. Naguib's concession
seemed justified when parliamentary elections held at the end
of 1952 gave a majority to the pro-Egyptian NUP, which had called
for an eventual union with Egypt. In January 1954, a new government
emerged under NUP leader Ismail al Azhari.
Data as of June 1991