1990-2000: Bashir Consolidates

Following a rapid sequence of events, Bashir called for a Jihad against the enemies of Islam. The SPLA had captured the town of Kurmuk and Quissan, a mere 600km south of Khartoum, and were threatening the Damazin power station, which supplied Khartoum. In January 1997 the southern Blue Nile Province fell to the rebels, and government forces attacked a rebel base near the Ugandan border, leading President Yoweir Museveni to ask the OAU to declare the Sudan war a continental conflict, so as to permit other African countries to supply arms to the rebels. In February South African President, Nelson Mandela, announced he was to hold talks with Bashir.

April 1996 saw the government of Sudan sign a peace agreement with six Southern factions that had broken away from the SPLM, and Bashir promised that a referendum on self-determination would be held after four years and that it would suspend legislation to impose Sharia on the South. Presidents Bashir and Museveni met in Nairobi with President Moi, who proposed the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). IGAD comprised of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

The IGAD Declaration included the separation of religion and state, self determination for the largely non-Muslim South, and the recognition of Sudan as multi-ethnic. Bashir noted, however, that the framework was not binding prompting Garang to state that he would not negotiate unless the framework was accepted as binding on both sides. After Mandela met Bashir in Pretoria in August 1997, he offered to host Bashir and Garang at the end of the month. Garang failed to show at the meeting, but talks did begin at the end of October in Nairobi – without any progress being made. On 10 December 1997, US Secretary of State Madeline Albright held a meeting with Garang, after the US had imposed sanctions on Sudan in November for its alleged support for terrorist activities.

In the interim, the government held gubernatorial elections in ten Southern states, as defined by the agreement with the six breakaway factions. These Southern states were to be governed by former rebel, Riek Machar, over a four year period. The South, however, continued to be dominated by the SPLM, even though the situation was fluid and towns and regions changed hands regularly. Bashir became involved in a power struggle with Dr Hasan al-Turabi, leader of the National Islamic Front; this caused Bashir to declare a three-month state of emergency in December 1999 and suspend the National Assembly. Most significantly, oil developments saw the delivery of the first shipments to Singapore, representing a breakthrough for the government.