Most of the talk of political instability, economic insecurity and potential for future violence is about the South at the moment. In international news, the situation in Khartoum is mostly only picked up on from the perspective of US policy and the ‘rehabilitation’ or not of Bashir’s regime on the international stage. This doesn’t make sense to me: in the middle of huge price rises and economic problems, Bashir’s government is in real trouble, trying to deal a complicated political balancing act between appeasing moderates and knocking back more violent opponents.
There are three days left on Al-Mahdi’s December ultimatum to the NCP to make a national government, redraw the constitution, call new general elections, resolve the Darfur conflict and the economic crisis, deal with the ICC, and make a sensible agreement with the South: whether or not Bashir properly responds to what sounds more like a rhetorical challenge than a real ultimatum, it’s a good summary of the problem the north faces at the moment. There is potential for serious political change, or at the very least a change in how the game is played, in the north this year.
So while a lot of the commentary revolves around the future of the South, I think it’sprobably a good idea to keep an eye on the opposition in Khartoum, who are becoming increasingly militant, and some voicing frustration with the quieter negotiations of al-Mahdi and Turabi. Magdi el Gizouli at StillSudan runs a fabulous commentary on the intricacies of the northern opposition versus the NCP and Bashir, and it’s worth a read.