President Omar Al Bashir recently appointed his deputy, the second vice president of Sudan, Al Haj Ahmed Youssef. The decision makes Adam Youssef one of the top three influential politicians in the country. Radio Dabanga takes a look at the profile of the leader, his background, views and opinions.
Al Haj Ahmed Youssef (1955- )
Position: Second vice president, Republic of Sudan
Party: National Congress Party (NCP)
Origins: Darfuri-Arab, Beni Helba tribe
On September 13, 2011 President Omar Al Bashir announced the appointment of Al Haj Ahmed Youssef as the new vice president of the country. The position had been vacant since Salva Kiir resigned to lead South Sudan after its secession from the North.
In the wake of his appointment, Ahmed Youssef who belongs to an Arab ethnic group in Darfur said, “There is a need to lay down arms and engage in peaceful ways ahead to end strife in the country.” Yousseff added that there was no conflict between the LJM and the NCP about his appointment.
The LJM, however, did express some concerns about the appointment of the new vice president, a decision the NCP seems to have reached without consultation with its ally. As per prior agreements, the post of the vice president is supposed to have been reserved for Tijani Sese, the chief of the LJM, which is the only opposition group that signed the Doha Peace Agreement (DPA) with the government of Sudan.
Most Darfuri opposition groups have also openly criticized the decision. So the vice president's appointment does come along with a fair share of controversy.
Ahmed Youssef was born in Eddel Fursan, South Darfur in 1955. He attained a PhD in Agricultural engineering and went on to teach the subject at Khartoum University. While serving in the PCP, he was the candidate for the gubernatorial elections in South Darfur.
The Darfuri Arab, who belongs to the Beni Helba tribe (traditionally cattle breeding Arabs), joined the NCP in November 2010, after cutting ties with Hassan Al Turabi-led opposition group Popular Congress Party (PCP). Once with the NCP, he held the position of the party's political secretary.
The PCP is said to have rebel links, something which Ahmed Youssef has endorsed. Ahmed Youssef supported the popular revolt of 1999 led by Turabi and is a strong Islamist believing in the necessity for unification of all Islamists.
After he shifted political gears and hopped onto the NCP wagon, he was quick to climb up the ladder. He did so by steadily campaigning on behalf of the President and gaining his favor. He toured several refugee camps and did a volte-face on his prior opinions. He now claimed that the unification of the various Darfuri states wasn't in anyone's benefit.
“The one region for Darfur is not acceptable at this stage. There is no real benefit. It was hoped that the consultations would continue between the people of Darfur in order to reach the conference to resolve this matter,” he was quoted by the pro-government news website Sudan Vision.
The matter of his Darfuri lineage also raised a curious remark from him. Instead of emracing his Darfuri identity, he denounced the matter saying, “The question of the vice president should not be connected with a certain region because the experiment in the South confirmed that the first vice president failed to exercise any powers and was confining himself in South Sudan. We want a vice-president on the basis of efficiency. All regions must be represented in the center to contribute in the management of the country,” the new vice president explained.
Ahmed Youssef's political ideology is therefore difficult to pin down -- his publicly expressed opinions have changed with time, making it difficult to predict a steady political course.