Change is a universal phenomenon; it is coming to Sudan. The question is; how, when and who is going to lead and manage the forthcoming change in Sudan? The conditions in Sudan are ripe for change. The political, economic, social and security situation is deteriorating, day by day. For example, when the South Sudan officially declares its independence, the budget of the North Sudan will lose more than 70 percent of its revenue. Such fiscal crisis will implode the economic growth in the North Sudan, and make possible a popular uprising against the regime in Khartoum.
There are certain ingredients that set the stage for change. The first ingredient is the corruption of the inner circles of the regime, including Al Bashir’s family, which has become a central issue of the youth in the ruling party and the public as well. The family misappropriated public funds for private gains and they have become as notorious as Al Trabulsy family in Tunisia. It is no surprise; the government of Sudan is now in the top list of the most corrupt country in the world, according to the recent index of Transparency International.
The second ingredient, the separation of the South, has created a political and constitutional vacuum. In this respect, there are many fundamental questions that needed to be answered, such as: will this political and constitutional new reality, which resulted from the separation of the South, open a new window of opportunity for the restructure of the rest of Sudan? Will the peoples of the remaining Sudan succeed in establishing a new, democratic, free and just Sudan? Sadly, the regime is still stubborn about opening serious national political dialogue to address any of these unprecedented challenges. In fact, the ruling clique is exploiting this constitutional and political vacuum to tighten its grip on power and starting a new era of a fascism, and racism in context of cultural superiority.
The third ingredient, the division among the ruling clique has become obvious. This month Shura (consultative) Council of the ruling (NCP) marked a new phase of divisions and power-struggle between Al Bashir and Nafie Ali Nafie on the one hand, and ALi Osman Taha, the Vice President, and his group on the other. Certainly, Taha was the real loser of the NCP Shura Council meeting. This division is not based on any philosophical issues, but it is merely a personality conflict and political opportunism. Moreover, beneath the surface, is a manifestation of tribal animosity and power mongering. Given their narrow racial, ideological agendas and fanaticism; a confrontation is inevitable.
The forth ingredient for change is, the current ethnic cleansing in the Nuba Mountains, Abyei and the ongoing genocide in Darfur which has been orchestrated by Al Bashir, it is further evidence of the war for survival led by Al Bashir and his ruling clique. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is in the heart of this battle; Al Bashir is spreading terror and violence everywhere in Sudan, to use it as bargaining chip in his personal battle with the ICC. Al Bashir is now fighting his last battle of survival; the international community should not bail him out of his self inflicted wounds. No bad behaviour shall be rewarded, that is a message Al Bashir needs to hear from the free world.
The last ingredient, the regional news and the popular sentiment is for change, resulting in overthrow all of despotic regimes. Al Basher is receiving dismal news from Libya, Yemen and Syria; his fellow dictators are losing legitimacy and power to the pro-democratic change masses. The slogan of the hour is: it is time for twins Al Bashir of Sudan and Bashar of Syria to go. When Abdelaziz Al Hillu called for regime change, it was resonate well to the other political forces in the country. It is music to the ear of any freedom fighter; soon the signals of freedom will vibrate through the walls of tyranny.
Thus, the crises in Sudan are even more horrendous than the crises that have led to the revolutionary changes in some Middle Eastern countries. Undeniably, the Sudanese people have proven in the past 60 years that they can lead democratic change against dictatorship. Again the history is calling on the people of Sudan to reclaim the promise of their ancestors and rise up one more time to save the country from the Arab war mongers and bigots. The people of Sudan did it in October 1964 and in April 1985, they will do it again.
The Possible Scenarios of Change in Sudan:
Scenario one suggests that, the forces from the marginalised majority of Sudan may attempt to change the regime in Khartoum by force. The crisis in Darfur and in South Kurdofan could develop into an agenda of regime change by the forces and peoples of marginalized regions. Certainly, there is a common ground, shared history of struggle and aspirations among all the peoples of the marginalised regions of Sudan. This common trait could help them to unite and organise their efforts to break the national deadlock and attempt changing the regime militarily. However, the challenge before the movements from the marginalised regions of Sudan is to develop an inclusive political program to bring the peoples of the north, including the traditional political parties and civil society in the North, on board. It is imperative that the marginalized forces to be inclusive and accommodate the Riverains of the North. They have to be convinced that, they are part of the change, and they aren’t the target. Any promise of change should be based on a detailed and comprehensive political program which could transform the country to a new dawn, based on democratic system of government that enshrines human dignity, respect for the rule of law, and equality of opportunity for all. In this context, we are sensing the opportunity for change. The discussion has already started among the marginalized forces at some level to join efforts which could lead for a forging of a broad base political alliance for change.
The current National deadlock in Sudan can be broken by a popular uprising, similar to the two previous Sudanese uprisings which occurred in October 1964 and April 1985. Furthermore, the Sudanese people in the North are also looking with admiration and hope to the two successful uprisings which took place recently in Tunisia and Egypt. The revolutionary atmosphere in the Middle East could inspire and provide the necessary momentum for the youth, pro-democracy activists and masses in Sudan, to repeat history and launch their own model of revolution against the murderous regime in Khartoum. It is true that the hardliners of the regime have been threatening; to crush any move dares to challenge them. Such threats will never halt the struggle and the march for democracy, peace and freedom.
One of the main concerns, however, in this respect is the nature of the possible position of the Sudanese Army. In the previous uprisings in particular, during the April uprising in 1985, the army sided with the people against former President Nimeri. Today, however, the army is no longer what it used to be, “a traditional and national army”.
The current top ranks of the Army are based on one or two tribal and ethnic affiliation. It has been evident that, since the 1989 Coup, there have been more than 42 groups of the Islamist and predominantly northern officers who were graduated from the Military College. These officers managed to transform the national military institution to become unprofessional and racist to its core. It is worth stating that, hundreds of officers and thousands of soldiers from the marginalised regions were dismissed from the army recently. The aim of the regime has been to maintain the domination of the ruling Arab racial group from the North. Hence, to whom this army resets its loyalty and support in a time of change is unclear. Is it going to side with Al Bashir? Or is the army going to stand up for its’ own interests and the interests of the people? It is also important to differentiate between the high ranking officers of the army who are for many reasons closer to the political leadership, and the mid and low ranking officers who are not necessarily supporting the regime’s political leadership.
This scenario suggests that change can be realised from within the regime. It is obvious that, since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, there has been undeclared division within the regime, there are two camps: one camp is under the leadership of Al Bashir and the other is under the leadership of Taha, the Vice President. In the recent convention of the NCP Shura Council, Taha was openly criticised by the hardliners for the problems created by the CPA and for making too much concessions to the SPLM. This convention marked a new era of division within the NCP; Taha lost the battle to Nafie, the later is now the strong man of the regime and has Al Basher’s ear.
Some optimists suggest that the current power-struggle within the regime, could lead for a change from within. However, the current internal power-struggle within the regime isn’t about real reform with an agenda of genuine change; it is over power, wealth and manipulation. This scenario has very limited chances of success, because the hardliners such as Nafie and AL Bashir’s are in full control of the regime’s power structure, including the security forces and militias. For instance, the humiliating dismissal of the former Security Chief, Salah Gosh, is a clear example. It is also seems that this incident won’t be the last one; we will see more of it as time progresses. According to some circles, others will follow the fate of Salah Gosh, namely Mr Taha.
It is true that Taha, sees the danger of internal power shifting, which his survival depends on. Losing power at home implies losing international credibility to deliver, and that accelerates his demise sooner than later. Recently, the power struggle within the regime has taken a very vicious tribal shape between the Gaaleyeen, the tribe of Al Bashir and his Assistant Nafie on the one hand, and the Shaygia tribe of Taha. The two tribes are the core of the ruling ethic Group (Riverain). The third tribe in the axis is the Danagla (Nubian) tribe of Abudlraheem Mohamed Hussain, the Defence Minster and General Bakri Hassan Salih, the Presidency Minster. The members of the Danagla tribe in the regime are now siding with Al Bashir in this power-struggle. It is worth mentioning that this power struggle has also reached the security and the armed forces, thus, it is possible that it may turn in to a violent confrontation.
Therefore, it isn’t likely that there will be a change from within the regime, however the regime’s power- struggle could weaken it, and consequently, help the masses, the armed and civil opposition to over-throw it and realise the democratic change in the North.
Peaceful and democratic change can be realised through an inclusive, political and constitutional conference. Such conference should address the Darfur, Kordofan, and Blue Nile Conflicts. There is also a need for advancing concrete measures for writing a new democratic constitution, the basis for the future peaceful relations between the South and North as well as the practical steps towards a new democratic transition in Sudan. However, this proposed conference can only be successfully convened inside the Country, when the ruling party concedes to allow a smooth transition for the Country. Otherwise, it should be convened outside the Country. The International community can play a constructive role in facilitating such a conference. The peoples of Sudan as well as the international community have a real interest in peaceful democratic change in Sudan.
To conclude, there is undisputed fact that, Sudan is on the brink of failure as nation state. Hence, the people of Sudan are in an urgent need to launch a real, democratic and peaceful change before it is too late. It is evident that under the current regime, Sudan will descend into state of total war or more disintegration. The current regime has no constructive vision and strategy. It is a known fact; the extremist ruling clique is very frightened of losing power, as they aren’t courageous enough to face the people, or justice for the crime they have committed in Darfur and elsewhere. They are fighting for their survival, by unleashing chaos and terror everywhere in the country. They are using the entire people of Sudan as human shields. No doubt, the regime is sending a message: the people of Sudan must choose between the regime continuing in power, else they unleash anarchy and total war. Thus, it is clear that, if this regime continues in power, Sudan would never enjoy peace, democracy and stability. This regime will never allow any strategic relationship with a new nation in the South to flourish; instead it will continue its destabilisation strategy and war by proxy in the South.
There are many scenarios of change in Sudan; however, one would advocate the peaceful and democratic scenario of change. This scenario is still possible under a broad democratic alliance which includes all the peoples and democratic forces from east, west north, and the centre. Of course the forceful change by the marginalized forces is a viable alternative, if the peaceful change is not materialized. History can repeat itself; Sudan isn’t an exception in this wave of democratic change in the region.