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The BBC's Lindsay Marnoch
"The immediate future of the people of Sudan is in doubt"
 real 28k

Hassan al-Turabi explains his actions to the BBC
"(President Bashir) never consulted neither the leadership, nor the council of ministers"
 real 28k

The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"What amounts to an internal coup"
 real 28k

Monday, 13 December, 1999, 20:56 GMT
Sudan's leaders struggle for supremacy

Sudan is in political turmoil as a quarrel between its two leading politicians escalates following the president's imposition of a state of emergency.

President Omar al-Bashir said he acted to control a power struggle with influential Parliamentary Speaker Hassan al-Turabi.

But Mr Turabi, the country's leading Islamist politician, denounced Sunday's move as a coup d'etat.

This is a coup d'etat
Mr Turabi
Reports from Khartoum say soldiers have been posted outside the parliament building, and residents of the city are waiting anxiously to see how the highly volatile situation develops.

Appearing in military uniform on Monday in his first appearance since he announced the three-month state of emergency and the dissolving of parliament, President Bashir said that two captains commanding one ship would cause it to sink.

This is a disciplinary measure taken to restore discipline and order
President Bashir
"This country needs one leader to steer it out of this situation. It did not need political quarrels," he said.

And he said that no arrests had been made and no drastic measures would be taken "unless there is a violation of the law or of the state of emergency".

His rival, Mr Turabi, who recently became secretary-general of the ruling National Congress Party. told the BBC in his first reaction that President Bashir was undermining freedom and Sudan's political system.

"This was a plain and clear coup d'etat, despite the justification provided by Bashir," he said. Since President Bashir came to power in a military coup a decade ago, Mr Turabi has been the main ideologue of his Islamic government.

Open conflict

The conflict between the two leaders over the liberalisation of Sudan's political system has now been brought to a head.

Presidential decrees
State of emergency throughout the country from Monday
Expiry of the parliamentary term
Entitling the president to dismiss and appoint governors
As speaker of parliament, Mr Turabi had led efforts to reduce President Bashir's powers by amending the constitution and creating a new post of prime minister. A vote was due to have taken place on Tuesday.

Parliament was also preparing to vote on amendments to the constitution which would allow it to remove the president by a two-thirds majority.

Mr Turabi is the secretary-general of the ruling National Congress Party and has a strong power base in the country.

On the other hand, President Bashir is thought to command the support of most of the army, and it is not clear what will happen to Mr Turabi in the near future.

It is also too soon to predict what effect it may have on tentative moves to promote national reconciliation in a country riven by war for 16 years.

President Bashir and Mr Turabi are understood to have differed over how to approach the conflict

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See also:
14 Dec 99 |  Media reports
Bashir says parliament undermined government
13 Dec 99 |  Africa
Analysis: Power struggle in Sudan
22 Feb 99 |  Africa
Sudan: a political and military history
12 Dec 99 |  Africa
Sudan parliament suspended
19 Nov 99 |  Africa
Sudan power struggle denied

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