The people of Sudan remain on the streets despite the brutal crackdown from the government. What they need now is solidarity, not Western-backed regime change, argues Explo Nani-Kofi
On 8 January, the governments of USA, Britain and Norway issued a joint statement which condemned the repressive methods which the Sudanese government was employing in its response to peaceful demonstrations by the masses of Sudanese people. Later, on 23rd January, the USA issued a statement that normalisation of bilateral relations and removal of Sudan from the list of terror nations requires that the Sudanese government should not employ such repressive measures. The statement declared its support to the Sudanese people for the right to peaceful demonstrations. Whilst the actions of the Sudanese regime are condemnable, there is a way these western governments capitalise on mass upsurges in countries to implement Western-instigated regime change. With the US supporting the Jair Bolsonaro fascist-like take over in Brazil and its push for the removal of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, we have to carefully interrogate the intention of these Western governments when they issue statements of this nature. We are all aware of the state of mayhem and disorder Western regime change in Libya has left that country.
The demonstrations which started as a reaction to increased food prices and developed into a call for President Bashir to step down have been going on since 19th December 2019. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) has been the made umbrella body for the demonstrations which have gone on every week. The various political parties and coalition of parties have come in support and calling upon the population as a whole to unite to end the reign of President Bashir. Activists have accused government-supported militiamen known as the Popular Forces of firing live bullets at the demonstrators. The government has conceded that 29 people have died since the demonstrations started but Amnesty International puts the figure at twice that. Police used batons and tear gas to disperse protesters again this week. People have also been killed outside the demonstrations as there are reports that a university student died out of torture and some were shot because they allowed demonstrators to run to their house.
Developments alongside demonstrations
On 3rd February, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) made up armed groups from Darfur which were split decided to reunite. The SRF leaders also called on the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement – North led by Abdel Aziz Hilu, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdel Wahid and the Sudan Liberation Forces Alliance (SLFA) led by Tahir Hajar to join them and form one alliance of the armed groups. The armed groups said that a future without war will be the victory of the Sudanese revolution.
An umbrella group called 2020 Alliance is made of parties that have participated in the government-led national dialogue and took part in the National Consensus Government of President Bashir. This umbrella group has launched an initiative to resolve the Sudanese crisis proposing that President Omer al-Bashir shouldn’t run in the 2020 presidential elections. A delegation from the 2020 Alliance headed by its leader Ibrahim Madibu on Monday has handed over the initiative to the Speaker of the Parliament Ibrahim Ahmed Omer. The initiative also proposes that the constitution should not be amended to allow President al-Bashir to run for a third term.
On 27th December 2018, the Sudanese authorities prevented a journalist from the London-based Alaraby TV station from covering the demonstrations and him to leave the country within 24 hours. The authorities also withdrew work permits from Sudanese and foreign workers of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya satellite TV stations in Khartoum as well as correspondents of Turkish Anadolu news agency on 21st January. The Sudanese Minister of Information alleges that foreign media companies are fabricating unrealistic scenes about the demonstrations so they are under surveillance. On 26th January, the security forces arrested the Chief Editor of Al-Midan, the mouthpiece of the Sudanese Communist Party and several journalists working with the publication.
The Sudanese masses have a rich history of bringing down tyrants, only for other tyrants to emerge who they have had to fight again as they are doing now. The opposition leaders have therefore drawn a “Freedom and Change Charter” as a transition resort if they are able to bring down President Bashir. The leader of the National Umma Party Sadiq al-Mahdi disclosed this on 25th January and said that extensive consultations have been held on the draft and it is currently being presented to 20 political and civil society groups. He said the document will be presented at an International Press Conference and 100 delegates representing Sudanese society in all its component parts will present the opposition demands to the National Assembly.
Everything should be done to build solidarity for the Sudanese people’s struggle and prevent Western-instigated regime change. The various professional, political and other civil organisations involved in the Sudanese struggle have fraternal bodies. These fraternal bodies should network to campaign against Western-instigated regime change. The peace movement in the Western countries which had issued statements should make very clear to their governments not to carry out any such action in their names. We need an organisation similar to what the Anti-Apartheid Movement was like during the era of Apartheid in South Africa to provide solidarity in Sudan and other countries of the developing world.
Explo Nani-Kofi is Societal Affairs Analyst and Social Justice Practitioner. He was born in Ghana where he started his activist as a grass root organizer for popular democracy. He coordinated the Campaign Against Proxy War in Africa and the IMF-World Bank Wanted For Fraud Campaign. He is a member of Counterfire and Director of the Kilombo Centre for Civil Society and African Self-Determination, in Peki, Ghana and London, UK.
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