Death of top Sudanese Islamist leader to change political landscape
Mar 09, 2016 Mourners recently gathered in Khartoum for the funeral of Hassan al-Turabi, a prominent Sudanese politician considered by many as the spiritual leader of the country’s Islamists.
Turabi, who passed on at the age of 84 after suffering a heart attack, was once a close ally of President Omar al-Bashir. He however severed ties with the ruling National Congress Party in 1999 to form an opposition group.
Also prior to his demise, he played a role in Bashir’s attempts to bring sparring parties together through a national dialogue process in 2014 and his Popular Congress Party (PCP) is also considered the most prominent opposition group in the country.
Commenting on his death, one of the mourners Abdallah Mohammed Ahmed said:
“He is the first one who called for the national dialogue. His main concern was Sudan’s unity and to resolve the crisis in the country,”
Amira Abu Tawilla, an official of the UMMA opposition party also said:
“He was an Islamic scholar and political innovator. We as Sudanese have lost him. I personally was supposed to meet him tomorrow on the national dialogue issue. He was, up to the last moment of his life, supporting national dialogue,”
Turabi was elected speaker of parliament in 1996 before a power struggle led to a split in 1999. He also published numerous books on Islamist thought and spearheaded the National Islamic Front, a group he formed in the 1970s to push for the Islamization of the state.
According to journalist and political analyst Shamail al-Nour, the political landscape of Sudan is bound to shift now that such a key player is gone.
“Some people consider his death a loss but at the same time some are happy about his passing. The political scene after Turabi’s death will change either positively or negatively, but there will definitely be a change. Things will not continue as they are now,”
She went on to further bemoan his death saying:
“Politically he is a big loss to Islamists. I think the Islamists are feeling that they have become orphans. When I visited the house of the late Turabi after his death, the feeling is that Islamists be it in the government or in the opposition are feeling that they are now orphans,”