The Abbud Military Government, 1958-64
The coup removed political decision making from the control of
the civilian politicians. Abbud created the Supreme Council of
the Armed Forces to rule Sudan. This body contained officers affiliated
with the Ansar and the Khatmiyyah. Abbud belonged to the Khatmiyyah,
whereas Abd al Wahab was a member of the Ansar. Until Abd al Wahab's
removal in March 1959, the Ansar were the stronger of the two
groups in the government.
The regime benefited during its first year in office from successful
marketing of the cotton crop. Abbud also profited from the settlement
of the Nile waters dispute with Egypt and the improvement of relations
between the two countries. Under the military regime, the influence
of the Ansar and the Khatmiyyah lessened. The strongest religious
leader, Abd ar Rahman al Mahdi, died in early 1959. His son and
successor, the elder Sadiq al Mahdi, failed to enjoy the respect
accorded his father. When Sadiq died two years later, Ansar religious
and political leadership divided between his brother, Imam Al
Hadi al Mahdi, and his son, the younger Sadiq al Mahdi.
Despite the Abbud regime's early successes, opposition elements
remained powerful. In 1959 dissident military officers made three
attempts to displace the Abbud government and to establish a "popular
government." Although the courts sentenced the leaders of these
attempted coups to life imprisonment, discontent in the military
continued to hamper the government's performance. In particular,
the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), which supported the attempted
coups, gained a reputation as an effective antigovernment organization.
To compound its problems, the Abbud regime lacked dynamism and
the ability to stabilize the country. Its failure to place capable
civilian advisers in positions of authority, to launch a credible
economic and social development program, and to gain the army's
support created an atmosphere that encouraged political turbulence.
Abbud's southern policy proved to be his undoing. The government
suppressed expressions of religious and cultural differences and
bolstered attempts to arabize society. In February 1964, for example,
Abbud ordered the mass explusion of foreign missionaries from
the south. He then closed parliament to cut off outlets for southern
complaints. Southern leaders had renewed in 1963 the armed struggle
against the Sudanese government that had continued sporadically
since 1955. The rebellion was spearheaded from 1963 by guerrilla
forces known as the Anya Nya (the name of a poisonous concoction).
Data as of June 1991