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Missouri Professor Returns to Sudan to Run For President

Most immigrants come to the United States to stay. But a history professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia is returning to his native country of Sudan next week, where he will seek the highest position in the Sudanese government: that of president. He spoke with KSMU's Jennifer Moore.

Dr. Abdullahi Ibrahim will run against the incumbent president, Omar Al-Bashir, who came to power in a military coup 20 years ago. Dr. Ibrahim is in Missouri for a few more days, and joined KSMU by phone.

Ibrahim said he is returning because of a sense of duty to his people, and to make sure the poor classes of society in Sudan are taken care of.

He said he came from a poor family, yet he was able to become a professor in the United States of America. He says it is his mission to allow others girls and boys of Sudan to have the same opportunities.

Ibrahim said if he wins, he will run a democratic, secular government in which religion is a resource, not a daily "routine of governing people."

Regarding the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Ibrahim said it first needs to have the proper diagnosis. It is not as simple, he says, as just saying "It's Arabs killing Africans," and that until now there has not been a proper assessment of the actual cause.

He acknowledges that there is a risk associated with returning to run for president. But he doesn't say that he's running specifically against the current president, Omar Al-Bashir: instead, he likes to think of it as running against an ancient regime that needs to be changed.

He said his first changes will be to go along democratic lines, very patiently.

Ibrahim says if there is any courage in his decision to return, it is the courage of doing the right thing.

Again, that was professor Abdullahi Ibrahim, a history professor at the University of Missouri. Next week, he leaves Missouri for his native country, the Republic of Sudan, where he will begin his campaign for president.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.

Professor Abdullahi Ibrahim delivers a lecture in Sudan.  Dr. Ibrahim returns to his native country next week to run for president. (Photo provided by A. Ibrahim)