The following post first appeared on on September 4, 2015

Dr. Peter Nyot Koke passed away on June 28, 2015 in Germany sustaining long years of illness. I was much grieved by his death and much more grieved by the fact that his death passed without a sad announcement or articles on his life, his numerous accomplishments and his tireless work for a united Sudan. None of his numerous northern friends and colleagues in organizations and parties of the National Democratic Alliance, Bar Association, Law School of the University of Khartoum (including myself) or his many students has written anything about him.

Dr. Peter had a unique personality characterized by intelligence and rich knowledge, a great reader and a skillful politician with a genuine unionist vision of the Sudan even during the self-determination referendum for South Sudan.
He was born in Rumbek in 1947 to a well-off and famous family and to a father who was one of the richest and powerful sultans (chieftains) of the Dinka tribe. Peter had his primary and secondary education in Rumbek before joining Khartoum University in 1966 and studied law in that university in 1968 to graduate as the top of his batch in 1971.

I met him in the University of Khartoum in 1967 and we built an intimate friendship of more than 40 years until his death this year. Following law studies together, we moved for post-graduate studies in Yale University in the United States of America, although I joined Yale one year before him due to his engagement for some time in Addis Ababa talks during the early rule of late President Jaafer Nimeiry.

Peter was a true, unreserved unionist, upholding a belief that the north could not remain united without the south and the latter would disintegrate into mini-states in absence of the north. We differed with each other and argued much when he decided to support Nimeiry’s regime and accepted nomination as a member of the People’s Assembly of that regime. The argument which he repeatedly gave to me, to his friends and colleagues who disagreed with him was “let’s stop the bloodshed, death, destruction and random shelling of the south and then turn to the system of ruling the country.” The disagreement between us was not over the historic opportunity that was provided by the Addis Ababa agreement for resolving the Sudanese north-south problem but was over the despotic regime that sponsored the agreement. It was obvious that the disagreement was due to the fact that we did not witness the death and destruction caused by the north in the south like what he did and we did not closely experience the humanitarian catastrophe in the south as he did.

However, Peter returned to his northern political flock when late President Nimeiry tore the Addis Ababa agreement in an arrogant and stubborn manner and was a member of the Khartoum University staff who led the resistance against the regime and contributed to the upheaval of April 1985.
Peter resisted attempts by both southern and northern political parties, whether in the government and oppositions, to win his valuable membership but he was concerned only with retaining unity of the Sudan.
When the Ingaz (Salivation) military coup d’état seized power on June 30-1989, instead of joining the SPLM, like what most Southern intellectuals did, Peter was among the prominent founders and leaders of the National Democratic Alliance.

He was a member of a delegation of the National Democratic Alliance to a consultative meeting called by a US Congressman in Washington in which delegations of the SPLM, the dissident faction of the SPLM and the government took part in 1993. At that meeting, Peter made a unionist speech, echoing voices of Father Saturnine in the Sudanese Parliament in 1958 and William Deng at the Round Table Conference in 1965.

He stressed during a meeting in my residence following the Washington meeting that his presence as a member of the National Democratic Alliance, not the SPLM, was conducive to retention of the unity of the Sudan with its ethnic, religious and cultural multiplicity because the north need to be convinced with the unity not the south.
When discord erupted in the ranks of the Alliance, Peter joined the SPLM and became one of its leaders and served as its ambassador to Europe, making use of his knowledge of the French and German beside the English and Arabic languages.

Peter also led SPLM delegations to meetings with the US Congress, Department of State and other political and academic bodies.

I still remember a comment Dr. Peter made at a dinner to which I invited the SPLM delegation at my residence in the US in June 2001 saying to members of the delegation: “I wish this beautiful evening and generous invitation will make the unit of Sudan attractive.”

Peter wrote a book titled ‘Governance and Conflict in the Sudan, 1985-1995, Evaluation and Documentation’ which is considered an importance reference for ethnic, religious and cultural conflicts in the Third World and for the South Sudanese question, in European and American universities.

In addition to writing in collaboration with Bona Malwal, a book titled ‘The Drift to Separation in the Sudan ‘ in 1993, Peter wrote several articles which were published in academic periodicals, including one in which he analyzed and criticized the Sudan Constitution of 1998 which was written by Dr. Hassan al-Turabi.
Dr. Peter got in disagreement with Dr. John Garang and other SPLM leaders, resigned his ambassadorial post in Europe and returned to Rumbek where he established an institute for development and environment and remained there until his fatal illness.

I remember that he refused to answer a question I asked him about his disagreement with Garang, saying he would not give a reply on telephone and suggested to postpone it till a personal encounter. That encounter was weeks after his appointment as higher education minister in the government of partnership of the SPLM and NCP after conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) when he gave me a sad gaze reflecting more than 40 years of friendship and cordiality and saying: “Time has defeated us, my friend, and the Sudan which we have known and struggled for it has passed away and so has the age a part of which we have lived together.”