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Sudan Defence Force (British Officers)

Volume 529: debated on Monday 21 June 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the decision of the Sudan Government to terminate the contracts of the British officers serving with the Sudan Defence Force.

Yes, Sir. In the Agreement of 12th February, 1953, it was agreed that the Sudanisation of the Sudan Defence Force should be completed. That was one of the tasks of the Sudanisation Committee set up by that Agreement. The Committee recommended last March that the Sudan Defence Force should be Sudanised as soon as possible. The Sudanese Council of Ministers endorsed this recommendation and the Governor-General gave his assent in April.

It is in pursuance of this decision that the Sudanese Minister of Defence has now given three months' notice, dating from 8th June of the termination of the services of the British officers in the Sudan Defence Force. This is the last stage in a process which has been going on for a considerable time. There are now only about 24 officers, as I understand, affected by this decision, all of them seconded from the British Army.

Major-General Scoones, the Kaid, Commanding Officer of the Sudan Defence Force, will be handing over his command to Lewa Ahmed Pasha Mohamed, a Sudanese officer with a distinguished record who is at present Deputy Kaid. He was one of the Sudanese representatives who attended the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen last year.

I am sure that all Members will join with me in sending to the Kaid designate and to all officers and men of the Sudan Defence force our good wishes. There are many in this country who have happy memories of service during the last war either in the Sudan Defence Force or alongside it in the field. We remember with gratitude that the Sudanese Defence Force fought gallantly for the Allied cause in Ethiopia and in the Western desert. They were wholeheartedly with us from the beginning to the end, in bad times as well as good. The Sudanese people are with good reason proud of the record of this Force.

At the same time, I should like to pay a warm tribute to the band of British officers whose devoted service has done so much to build up this Sudanese National Army since it was established as a separate force 30 years ago.

While wholly endorsing my right hon. and learned Friend's valedictory remarks to the officers of the Sudan Defence Force, may I ask whether he is satisfied that this decision will not weaken the Governor's power to maintain law and order in the event of a disturbance, or his having to deal with a situation of emergency during the period of transition?

The Sudan Defence Force has a fine corps of Sudanese officers to draw from and I have no reason to believe that they will not obey any orders that they may be given.

Does the Sudanisation of the Sudan Defence Force mean the posting of Egyptian officers to the Sudan again?