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Saturday, 6 May, 2000, 22:18 GMT 23:18 UK
Analysis: Power struggle in Sudan

Bashir: Delared a state of emergency in December
President Omar al-Bashir's suspension of Hassan al-Turabi as secretary-general of the ruling National Congress Party is a dramatic twist in the power struggle between Sudan's two most influential politicians.

But Mr Turabi, President Bashir's former mentor and the main ideologue of Sudan's Islamist government, is a powerful figure who will be difficult to sideline.

Turabi: President Bashir's former mentor

He has said he and his supporters will ignore President Bashir's decision.

And Mr Turabi's support within Sudan's security forces raises the possibility that the political confrontation could turn violent.

Key ally

Mr Turabi was a key ally when army General Bashir came to power in a coup in 1989.

Since then the Sudan Government has been a strategic alliance between the military and Islamic factions the leaders represent.

But the increasingly public rivalry between the two men came to a head in November with an open confrontation over moves to reduce presidential powers.

Their public row also coincided with significant progress made by President Bashir in seeking to end the civil war that has divided the nation.

The two men are known to differ in their approach to the conflict.

State of emergency

The president first acted against Mr Turabi on 12 December last year.

He dissolved parliament, of which Mr Turabi was speaker, accusing him of running a parallel administration.

The assembly - egged on by Mr Turabi - had been due to vote on curbing the president's powers less than 48 hours later.

The president also declared a three-month state of emergency that has since been extended to the end of the year.

Mr Turabi said at the time that President Bashir's actions were illegal but Sudan's constitutional court ruled that the president had not exceeded his powers.

Since the first move against Mr Turabi in December, several of Sudan's neighbours have improved ties with Khartoum, apparently relieved at President Bashir's move to diminish the influence of a man they view as a champion of Islamist militancy.

But some opposition politicians in Sudan say the quarrel between the two men is not ideological but a simple contest for personal power.

Khartoum residents will be watching anxiously to see how the power struggle plays itself out

President Bashir's actions in December failed to halt the power struggle, and even with this latest move it seems that political stability is a long way off.

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12 Dec 99 | Africa
Sudan parliament suspended
13 Dec 99 | Media reports
Text of President Bashir's statement
06 May 00 | Africa
Power struggle deepens in Sudan
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