April Uprising & Political Roles

Minister of Health - Intifada Transitional Government - 1985

Minister of Health - Government of National Concord - 1986

Minister of Foreign Affairs - Government of National Concord - 1988

Minister of Housing - Government of National Salvation - 1990

Minister of Social Development - Government of National Salvation - 1991 – 1992

Minister of Foreign Affairs - Government of National Salvation - 1993 – 1995

April 6th 1985 Uprising (Al Intifada)

Large masses of Sudanese; particularly low income groups suffered tremendously during the eighties. Shortages in basic daily needs such as bread, petrol and a poorly-run and under-budgeted Public Services were just a few of the many causes that has unraveled public frustration and un-rest. However, President Jaafar Nimeiri was completely distant and seemed to care less about the suffering of the people. As a matter of fact, he was very aggressive and insulting to those who dared to complain or oppose his policies.

In late March 1985; the Student Unions at Omdurman University and Khartoum Polytechnic (currently know as University of Sudan for Technology & Science) joined by large masses of homeless children (known as; Shammasha) lead massive demonstrations. The large crowds of students and Shammasha were dispersed with excessive force, many were injured and some were killed. In reaction to such aggressive and brutal actions against these demonstrations; the Doctors in Khartoum Hospital called for Strike & Civil Mutiny. And so was the start of the people’s uprising (Intifada). The Doctors Union was reintegrated and contacts with the sixth leading syndicates were made. This included the Doctors Syndicate, Lecturers of University of Khartoum Syndicate, Engineers Syndicate, Lawyers Syndicate, Banks Syndicate and the Social Security Fund Syndicate. These Syndicates joined forces and agreed to participate in the mutiny and demonstrations proposed by the Khartoum Hospital Doctors Union.
The demonstrations were heavily supported by the general public and were quickly labeled the “People’s Uprising”. The six trade unions mentioned above lead the civil mutiny that started in Khartoum and quickly spread across the nation.
On Sunday 31st of March 1985 I declared the Civil Mutiny in an interview broadcasted on the widely known American TV Station NBC. The Sudanese Army under the leadership of Gen. Abdel Rahman Siwar Al Dahab elected to take the side of the people and supported the Uprising. President Nimeiri's regime was deposed and Sudan’s Army took over.

A Military Council was appointed, and we (myself; along with a group of Syndicate Leaders) were released from the Political Detention Prisons. The Trade Syndicates/Unions supported by Conventional parties formed the National Democratic Congress, and were given the task of appointing a Civilian Council of Ministers.
I was chosen as a Minister of Health in the Transitional Government 1985- 1986, and as a result I stopped my medical practice for a while. There was a lot of work to do as we discovered the effects of draught and famine in various parts of Sudan especially in the Darfur and the Eastern Sudan. A call for the international community to intervene resulted in significant amounts of aid and relief that has helped put an end to regions impacted by famine and starvation.

The Transitional Government passed the Transitional Constitution and the Election Law paving the way for Sudan’s Third Democracy in May of 1986.

Member of D.U.P (Democratic Union Party) – 1986 to 1990

In 1986 and a few month before the end of the Transitional Government, a number of my relatives as well as Sayed: Mohamed Osman Al Mirghani – President of the Democratic Union Party (DUP) persuaded me to join their Party and to run for elections for the Constitution Assembly. I joined the Democratic Union Party and ran for the seat of the Shendi Constituency North of Khartoum. I won the Assembly seat with an overwhelming majority with the support from over twenty five thousand citizens. An election victory rated third in popularity regarding number of votes casted to one nominee. Sayed: Al Sadig Al Mahdi had the largest number of votes in his constituency followed by Mr. Mubarak Al Fadil Al Mahdi.

Immediately following the election a Coalition Government made of the Umma Party and the DUP was presided over by Prime Minister Al Sadig Al Mahdi (President of the Umma Party). Prime Minister Al Sadig Al Mahdi appointed me as a Minister of Health, so I continued in the same position I held during the Transitional Government for two more years.

I believe that one of the most prominent achievements of the Ministry of Health during the time was the effort in establishing a sustainable system of vaccination against fatal diseases impacting children such as: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Whooping cough, Polio, Measles). This effort would not have been possible without the great help of the UNICEF and the international community as their support was greatly appreciated. Another major achievement was rebuilding the Medical Storage Facility using a grant made by the Government of Holland. A third major accomplishment was building three hospitals from a grant donated by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, one hospital was built in Omdurman (Now is used as maternity), the second in Al Fashir in Darfur (now belongs to Al Fashir University) and the third is in Kasala in Eastern Sudan and now also is a teaching hospital.

Note: I must mention that Primary health care as a free service for all Sudanese was not achievable and failed to meet expectations due to extreme financial difficulties at the time. However, I still believe that in spite of the success of health insurance there is a need for free primary health care for all.

Foreign Minister - Government of National Concord - 1988

The first coalition between the Umma Party and DUP failed, and so did the second. In April 1988 a government of National Concord composed of the three main parties Umma, DUP (Democratic Union Party) and INF (Islamic National Front) in addition to a few Southern parties was also presided over by Prime Minister Al Sadig Al Mahdi (President of Umma Party). The DUP chose not to select the Ministry of Health as part of their assigned cabinet seats. They reluctantly suggested to me to fill the post of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. And, I accepted the offer and remained at this post for 9 months. It was very challenging to establish a policy for foreign affairs. The Foreign policies adopted by the parties of National Concord were not harmonious and sometime contradictory.

The war in the South, the economic crisis, the significant number of strikes by Trade Unions and repeated attempts to isolate the INF party from the government formed a tense situation and has in turn led to Mutiny and a Coup by Army factions led by Brigadier Omar Al Bashier.

A military government was established made of:
1- Military Salvation Revolutionary Council
2- Civilian Council of Ministers
3- Military Governors of the nine provinces of Sudan

The Salvation evolution was supported b a number of Sudanese, but was opposed by what were then banned political parties. Later on the same parties joined forces with the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) and formed an alliance called the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in Cairo. The aim of the NDA was to over-throw the Salvation government by any means. Early in February 1990 I was approached by a government supporter who came to my house and told me that Brigadier Al Bashier wants to see me in the Republican Palace. When I arrived at the Republican Palace; I found Brigadier Al Bashier, Al Zubair, and Faisal Abusalih expecting me. They asked for my support to the Salvation Government, and to join hands with them. I hesitated in the beginning as I already started my clinic in Khartoum, but it seemed to me that they were very keen to have me on their sides. At last, I agreed to support them, and so I was appointed as a Cabinet member in a number of Ministries:

Minister of Housing February 1990
Minister of Social Development 1991 – 1992
Minister of Foreign Affairs 1993 – February 1995

Minister of Housing February 1990

Housing was a real problem in Sudan. When I took over, I found a large number of applications for families in the waiting list hoping to get a piece of land to build a home. Some applications dated twelve years back.
I succeeded in planning residential areas in Khartoum, Omdurman and Khartoum North enough to suffice the demand for the forty thousands who were entitled to have a piece of land, and they finally got what was entitled to them.

Minister of Social Development 1991 – 1992

Shareaa was declared in January 1991 and the Ministry of Social Development was created to work for achieving social development and social justice. Many workshops and seminars were organized to formulate a strategy for social development which was defined as:
- Human Development
- Community Development
Community Development included Housing, Health, Education, Provision of proper food, Need environment, Creation of jobs and funding income generating schemes.
This work continued smoothly in 1991 to be paralyzed by the declaration of Market Economy in February 1992 which affected low income group and the middle class and became an obstacle for poverty alleviation.

Minister of Foreign Affairs 1993 – February 1995

I was appointed as a Minister of Foreign Affairs in February 1993. At the time; relations with the west were very tense because of the Islamic Orientation taken by the Salvation Government, relations with Arab countries was also tense as some Arab countries accused the Sudan of Supporting Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. That was not true; as a matter of fact the government of Sudan was against Iraqi invasion and was also against western intervention to solve the problem militarily.
I tried to improve relations with many countries, and gain support of others specially the Asian countries, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, China, India and Iran. Relation with the west resisted improvements. The lesson learned in this period was the importance of South to South cooperation.

Abuja Peace Talks

I participated in the Abuja-1 peace talks that took place in Nigeria in 1992 as well as Abuja-2 in 1993. Both negotiations failed to conclude an agreement due to International conflicts with the Government of Sudan and pressures led by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in efforts to overthrow the Salvation Government.

Late Years 1995 to date

In 1995 I resigned from the National Congress Party and resumed my medical practice and started operating a small clinic attached to Ibn Khaldoon Private Hospital. A looked after a number of patients and others for consultation. I also operated on a number of cases. Strangely enough when I started operating I felt immediately at home and the absence of ten years from practice did not affect my surgical ability, thank God. I even found practice far easier, thanks to the advances in Neuro-radiology.

Founding member and president – Nile Valley Congress – 1999

Due to severe conflicts within the National Congress Party, I resigned from the party before it was divided into two factions one lead by the original founder Sheikh Hassan Al Turabi and a second faction led by President Omer Al Bashier.

In the same year, I was an active member and a founder of the Nile Valley Congress, a party with an objective of establishing strategic relation between Sudan and Egypt based on scientific basis and true partnership. Our goal was to achieve development, progress and prosperity in both nations. Also, to call upon the international community to protect the interests of the peoples of the Nile Valley. Our aim was to spearhead this effort and to form relationship and commonalities amongst all parties to formulate a unified trend and a common ground for Sudanese.
The public opinion was in support of this trend. The party battled for four years but failed to thrive. This makes me pose a benign question. Why didn’t the Egyptian react positively?