Flashpoint for Conflict
- "ISLAMIC" LAW
Nimeiri was toppled from power in 1985, a mere eighteen months after his collaboration with the National Islamic Front (NIF) of Dr Hassan al-Turabi to impose a version of "Islamic" or "shari'a" law on Sudan in 1983.
It was a bid to save his political fortunes by embracing religion, but the shari'a, with its emphasis on emergency courts and poorly trained judges replacing the civil judiciary, was criticised even by the leaders of avowedly Muslim parties.
Its tendency to punish the poor and racially disfavoured with disproportionate harshness made it unpopular among the majority of Northern Sudanese and a focus of bitter opposition for the Southerners.
Even after the regime's overthrow, Nimeiri and Turabi's quasi-religious laws, no matter how flawed, were never entirely rescinded by their Muslim political opponents in the Umma and Democratic Unionist parties, who feared that their own aspirations to religious authority would he undermined if they did so. Top
Southern Sudanese were already aggrieved over what they perceived as Khartoum's arrogant handling of crucial development issues, such as the siting in Northern Sudan of a refinery for oil extracted mostly from Southern Sudan, and the digging of the world's biggest canal through the marshes of Jonglei.
They regarded the application of shari'a as intrinsically racist, and
it provided a catalyst for the resumption of civil war.Top