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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Sudan at Dangerous Crossroads


Fitsum Getachew

Tue, 11 Jun 2019 12:28 GMT

The news that comes from the Sudan does not augur well for the Sudanese people but even for its neighbours including Ethiopia which shares a long border on its western side and the other states surrounding it. It was evident that for the past several years things have not been going well for Sudan. The Bashir regime had almost finished its life cycle. Life was becoming harder and harder by the day for the ordinary Sudanese as the cost of living continued to skyrocket. The government could not address these and other issues. It was accused of being largely dominated by the interests of a few individuals linked with each other in their personal affairs and forgetful of the plight of the masses. 

Indeed many considered the Bashir regime not only inefficient but also corrupt with massive national resources usurped by top leadership. There were reports that even the president was the owner of billions of dollars and that his residence itself was likened to a bank with millions of notes in various foreign currency. The question has arisen regarding his close associates and family members: How much riches have these people amassed under the indulgent and complacent eyes of the leadership?

While this process of cleaning up corrupt practices and reinventing a clean government may take time, there appears to be little patience on the part of those who ignited the flames that burnt down the Bashir government. In fact, these groups seem not to be willing to compromise with the system that they say includes the military establishment now on power. The argument is that they are too much embedded in the old system and have been oppressing the people of Sudan under the complacent eyes of the president. Their reliability is hence in question.

This is a huge challenge because there appears not to exist a well-organised group of people such as a recognised and well prepared party that could take over the reins of power, even if the Transitional Military Council may be willing to relinquish power. Unity among the opposition alliance appears slim. Common intent seems very far. Reports of disagreements have been transpiring. The destiny of the country seems to haunt the people of Sudan on whether their sacrifices are vain with the continuation of the rule by the military.

History has written chapters on incidents that follow regime change and transition. With feelings and expectations very high there is little patience and moderation. In the meantime, mistakes are probable and eventually the ones who lose are the people without wise and forward looking guidance. Grudge and revenge on the former rulers is also a risk. And the success or failure of such transition depends on the transition leaders.

The military appears to exert power now; but there are others who refute this thesis and argue that the real power lies in the hands of the second man whom the Sudanese know as the leader of a notorious paramilitary group called Rapid Support Force, RSF. They were accused of ruthlessly putting down rebellion in the Darfur region of Sudan upon the order of the former leader, Bashir. How much acceptance such a leader would secure is now a big question also because they say he is the one behind the repressive moves of June 3rd and 4th. This is another cause of concern for the civilian led opposition. If indeed he is the one who calls the tunes in Khartoum, it would be difficult to be optimistic about the upcoming negotiations.

In the meantime, worldwide condemnation is being heard across the globe with loud voices of support for the people of Sudan.

Sudan is currently boiling up and the immediate consequences may not only be dramatic but also catastrophic if restraint in the use of force is not applied. Already the controversial figure of a hundred victims in the clampdown of the sit-ins is scandalous. Negotiations appear to have been halted and the future does not seem bright. The latest events induce us to believe that it would not be far-fetched to see the Sudanese people despair. Their sacrifices appear to plunge into another cycle of authoritarian military rule.

In a system that is blessed with democratic institutions it would have been easy to conduct free and fair elections with all the necessary safeguards in terms of organising and preparing for transparent elections in a level playing field. But without such prerequisites, a long and tortuous path is to be expected and the results are not always positive or fast. Sudan lacks these structures and the guarantee of peaceful transition could look like wishful thinking unless some charismatic leader transpires and helps prepare the ground for peaceful and orderly transition. And it is here the vacuum exists.

Sudan is at a crossroads no doubt but the risks of failing during the transition period are becoming more and more palpable and worrying. This is so not only for the nationals but also for neighbouring countries Ethiopia, Egypt, Eritrea, South Sudan, and Chad that have a close relationship with it. No wonder the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD, did not standby impassive but rather issued statements condemning the violence and calling for restraint. The same have been heard from other nations, the US and UK just to name a few. This is a key moment in events in Sudan and the sooner it is addressed the better.

Otherwise, the risks of internationalising the confrontation and escalation could be so high that a repeat of what we saw in Yemen, Syria or Libya may not be that distant. Let us hope that the worst days are gone for good and better ones dawn.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of 7Dnews.

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