Monday, June 25, 2012

Sudan's Street Protests are not Entirely Good Omens

By Martin Garang Aher

Sudanese are on the streets! And they are poised to carry on with their intentions irrespective of government rebukes. Perhaps the Arab Spring déjà vu has ultimately come to town. It will remain to be seen if the Sudanese will really muster the strength and courage seen on Tahrir Square in Cairo and on the streets of Tunis and Tripoli. One is not really convinced that the Sudanese masses have reached maturity to persistently sustain longer demonstrations against a full throttle government's immediate response and crack downs that may ensue.  However, one may be wrong. It is almost two weeks now since the streets became live with demonstrators. Who knows the pain had penetrated the marrow of the Sudanese commoners.

What we do not see clearly is the system the Sudanese people would want to replace the NCP (Nation Congress Party) with. New opposition parties in the Sudan have little acquaintance with the public and the already existing prominent ones are led by Islamic and political ideologues that have had a fair share in the mess and misrule that have today 'properly' angered the citizens. It is reasonable to suggest that the main opposition parties in the Sudan would do no better than the NCP. What may boost the confidence of the people on the streets would be the emergence of a strong Islamic Political party that will promise to steer away from military preoccupations and economic mismanagements that have characterised the Sudanese political arena since independence in 1956. It will have to chart a path too different from that of the NCP -which still views itself as an islamic movement of the people - that many see as the reason behind the break up of the country. For this to happen, they have to imitate Egypt, a model country which some Sudanese politicians wish to see theocratically recolonises Sudan and merges the borders to form a larger Arab entity in Africa. This tangential shift will too push farther away the rebels in Darfur, Eastern Sudan, Southern Kordufan and the Blue Nile regions.

Regionally, if the Sudanese manage to bring down the government with stones and burning tyres, they would have dealt a big blow to the ICC and economic blockades. Nevertheless, Sudan will have no better relations with South Sudan; a country which its seccession is the key abstract behind the demonstrations and which the government - now so despised - have categorised as number one enemy state after Israel. Critically, the parties lining up for power in Khartoum had in the past dealt with the main ruling party in South Sudan (Sudan People's Liberation Movement) and will not succeed in any deal to settle the post referendum issues with less tricks and fairness as expected. For many South Sudanese, it is the frantic and erratic nature of the NCP; a party in which two thirds of its pivotal members have been indicted by the International Criminal Court, that they wish diminished. At least, a free thinking Sudanese government would be better for the two Sudans. Other countries that have had the feel of the Sudanese bad omen such as Malawi, which had recently relinguished the duty of hosting African Union Summit following pressures to invite President Bashir, will breath freely heavily in the African affairs.

To the 'bubbles' demonstrators, as Bashir would want them to be known, what began on the campus of the University of Khartoum, be it theocratic or secular,  must have a seasoned torch-head for it to be meaningful.