The general strike, and people’s demands in Sudan - ZEKERIYA KURŞUN

The general strike, and people’s demands in Sudan

The people’s movement in Sudan has been ongoing for about six months now. Where are the groups that describe Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan under extraordinary conditions for years, as a dictator, who declared him as a war criminal and want to have him tried in criminal courts?

With war, the bottleneck in the economy, rising unemployment in line with urbanization, the atmosphere of inflation, and eventually the increase on bread prices being the final straw, the people’s movements started. The people’s movements which started with peaceful demands led to deaths due to mismanagement. The people eventually dismissed Omar al-Bashir from his post – as desired by the West – and took control over the government with less damage than expected. Or, they at least thought they took control over it. The soldiers that had stood by Omar al-Bashir for years rose to power with two successive coups.

Yet it appears that similar to Egypt and Tunisia, the Sudanese people’s will was also stolen with a counter-revolution, leading to the start of a new era. Following a visit to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and lastly to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by the chief of the Transitional Military Council, who was declared as president of the transition period, the country went on a two-day general strike.

The people, who are angry about council chief Gen. al-Burhan’s visits, want back their will, which was stolen from them. What is really the significance of al-Burhan’s meeting with leaders that were against people’s movements during the Arab Spring process, and as a matter of fact, leaders who prepared counter-revolutions, before establishing stability in Sudan, and while a general strike and a new coup are likely? If we were to comment without considering any conspiracy theory, it could be said that al-Burhan wants to thank the Gulf leaders that pledged $3 billion aid to Sudan following Omar al-Bashir’s toppling. Also, it could be claimed that he visited Egypt too as it is impossible to separate Sudan and Egypt’s destinies.

However, one cannot help but ask, “Is the price of the Sudanese revolution $3 billion?” But al-Burhan’s former relations as well as the approach of the West, which just “loves” people and their movements, may be factors rendering this visit necessary. The West that dotted the region with thousands of agents during the Arab Spring, claiming to instill democracy, has shown its hypocrisy once more in Sudan. The people of Sudan have been abandoned.

Those who observe Sudan closely would know: Omar al-Bashir was left isolated despite his flirtations with the West and, as a matter of fact, Israel, in his last years more than ever to protect his power. The West that applauded street movements now disappointed both the military that put their trust in them and the people in the same way. It condemned al-Burhan to Gulf leaders, who have antipathy towards public movements, and to Egyptian leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.

In brief, if a nation is unable to determine its own destiny, it becomes impossible for it to get back up on its feet and recover with foreign contribution. Where are those who started the Darfur war and divided Sudan in half? Just as stability could not be restored in Darfur or South Sudan, North Sudan faced the same result. A look at the West’s history of intervention since the 19th century shows that whenever Muslim people or communities were in question, the same colonial mentality was in action. This is the situation in Sudan, which is unable to control its resources, agricultural potential and manpower.

Is there no hope at all?

Of course there is. The current experiences of Eastern communities should be considered as such that will contribute to their development and future. It should be remembered that the West too experienced similar processes throughout history. The bloody French revolution that cost the lives of millions gave rise to graver results in both France and Europe, compared to what is happening today in the Middle East and North Africa, and as a matter of fact in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The most important result of the people’s movement in Sudan, which is quite heterogeneous, is perhaps the “Freedom and Democracy Declaration.” The leaderless people’s movement in Sudan that wants to topple the Omar al-Bashir regime, eventually became the Sudanese Professionals Association. The same movement published a declaration on Jan. 1, 2019, and voiced the people’s demands. This declaration demanded that Omar al-Bashir step down from power. The other fundamental demand was the establishment of a four-year technocratic transition government that would be accepted by all the parties on the ground. Thus, Sudan would improve its economy in four years and switch to a democratic administration through democratic elections in which all parties and groups would participate.

It appears that the generals, who were willing to accept this declaration in the beginning, changed their minds now for some reason. While the people are insisting on a civilian-majority administration to lay claim to their revolution, the military wants the opposite. Though it is currently unknown what pressure the strike will cause and the conclusion it will bring the two sides, the Freedom and Democracy Declaration continues to give hope.

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