1 September 2018

Sudan: Government Reshuffle - Final Round?


The very day President Omar Al-Bashir announced his surprise move to dissolve the government and appointed a new, younger Prime Minister Mutaz Musa, the main opposition group, Sudan Call (SC), met in Paris. It was mere coincidence, but this coincidence summarises the country's compound problems that have crippled it since its independence.

It was the coincidence that shows the governing regime at its lowest point of inability to manage the country and equally ineffective opposition that claims to be an alternative, but failing even to rally people around its flag to protest the declining living conditions.

It will be very easy to dismiss the move to change the government as a window dressing that does not address the structural problem facing the country and that it is mere change of faces, but the main opposition group, SC, does not stand as a credible alternative. Formed four years ago, but seems to be confused on how to deal with the Ingaz regime: on one hand it calls for total removal of the regime and on another it is engaged into dialogue through the AUHIP roadmap. While some of its factions like rebel movements are resorting to guns to fight the regime, others like the Umma call for peaceful opposition.

During last week's meeting in Paris it was decided to complete alternative policies based on various initiatives on the issue taken by some SC members, discuss them and come up with a final version. This is not the first time that alternative policies have been proposed, but to no avail. For more than two decades opposition groups have tried their luck with alternative policies. High on the list what was termed Asmara Declaration in 1995, where then the main opposition umbrella the National Democratic Alliance used to lead opposition. It was in that meeting that all have agreed to the idea of self-determination for South Sudan in addition to host of other policies.

Armed with that then leader of SPLM/A John Garang got into serious negotiations with the Khartoum that resulted in the CPA and eventually the separation of South Sudan. The rest of alternative policies went in vain.

In the absence of a liberated land to implement these policies as is the case with other rebel movements, the only reasonable avenue to make such effort worthwhile is to work it through an election program and rally various groups around it to challenge the regime at the ballot box. But such a move requires two important steps: to renounce violence as a mean to change the regime and end self-exile, come back to Sudan, work with the people instead of staying in foreign capitals and making insensitive calls for demonstrations and other forms of uprising against the regime.

Sudan has managed twice before to challenge two military regimes, remove them from power and restore parliamentary democracy, but the post military regimes that followed were weak and ineffective even in writing a constitution and were easily removed by another coup, ironically, spearheaded by the same officers who pressed the army to side with the people.

It is high time to try something different that will bring people into the political playground and reduce elites' abilities to cut deals. To many the current regime is a product of a 1989 coup and should be challenged through the same popular uprising coupled with military rebellion because Ingaz will not allow fair and free election, but political powers with enough popular support and a reliable constituency will be able to protect their interests. Already in the current parliament at least 13 candidates have challenged the National Congress, managed to get enough support and guarded their ballot boxes and made it to the parliament.

But even if another uprising is going to succeed for the third time, question marks remain hoisted on the ability of the post Ingaz regime to tackle seriously issues that boil down to state building and democratic transformation.

However, with the country's crises reaching unprecedented levels it is the regime's duty to knock on doors and try to find a way out. After all it is basically a political crises that has manifested into other areas. A road map is already delineated. What is missing is the political will. That has been the recipe all along. The difference this time is that even the government supporters recognize that the country's future is at stake.


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