SUDAN IN TRANSITION
By Simon E. Kulusika
Zambian Open University,
Sept 4, 2019(Nyamilepedia) — A state sovereign Council (SSC) consisting of 11 members has been formed in the Sudan, after 9 months of turmoil and hard bargaining between the Military group who removed President Omar al-Bashir, and leaders of protester. The formation of the SSC; the Council of Ministers (CM); and the Legislative Assembly (LA) heralds get another transition in the Sudan. It marks the eighth transitional governments in the Sudan, since 1956. Each government, of the type referred to, lasted for a period of between two to six years. Each government was regulated by constitutional decrees, or provisional constitutions. These were modelled on the provisional independence constitution.
It would not by-lie a claim that there is a tag-of-war between civilians and the Military in the Sudan. Al, except one, of eight transitional governments resulted from successful civilian uprisings. But, each government established after a transitional period, in turn, was quickly overthrown by the Military. Someone may question, whether or not the current government will be the last one: to bring to an end the unending transition in the Sudan.
The Military ruled the Sudan for 52 years. The civilians, through their political parties, ruled the State for 11 years, excluding the Sudanization period from 1953 – 1955.
All Military rulers of the Sudan procured authority over the country by the acquiescence, submission, or conspiracy of some civilian politicians. In the case of Gen. Aboud, it was as if the PM of the day, in ‘if I go down to the bottom of the Nile, I will pull, with me, all the members of the Constituent Assembly’. As regards Marshalls Nimeiri and Al-Bashier, the drama was orchestrated by stealth impulse from the Communists and Muslim Brothers, respectively, to take power. When the conspiracy was accomplished, the Communists shouted, ‘Long live Karl Max, and the Brothers concluded theirs Jihad prayer by ‘Allahu Aklsar’.
Thus, in 1958, when Col. Abdalla Khalil, Bey Pru of the Umma Party, faced defeat by No-Confidence Motion in the CA, he invited Gen. Ibrahim Aboud, the, Commander of the Army, to take-over power. He told the Gen. ‘I have failed …….. history will hold you accountable, in th event of the disintegration of the Sudan’.
On 17 November 1958, Gen Aboud inaugurated a repressive military junta in the Sudan. He ruled by Decrees, No any vestages of the new democracy were left untouched. Any sort of gathering, except for funerals, was outlawed. He introduced compulsory military drills at all secondary schools. Media was banned and all newspapers were placed under severe control by Information and Culture Ministry. There was no gossips about human rights and fundamental freedoms. Barely two years after the fall of Gen. Aboud, people began to sing praise in his name, when citizens began to queue for bread. It is even worst nowadays.
This kind of dictatorial regime was replicated by the regimes of Marshall Garafar Mohamed Nimeiri and Marshall Omar H. A. al Bashir. Nimeiri was given power by the Sudan Communist Party (SCP). The Communists plotted and toppled the Umma Party government, under P M Mohamed A. Mahghoub in 1969. Nimeiri was topped by Gen Souwar al- Dhahab in 1984, while on medical visit to the USA. Gen al-Dhabab was sprouted by junior officers to take power. The junior officers were begged by protesters to act against Nimeiri.
Al Bashir was co-opted, by the Sudan Muslim Brotherhood (SMB), under Dr. Hassan Abdalla Al-Turabi, to assume power in the Sudan in 1989. The SMB conspired and overthrew the Umma Party government, under Al-Saddiq al-Mahdi, an Oxford Scholar.
It can be claimed that the military never aspired to political power in the Sudan. The military was and remains a facade for the inability of Sudanese politicians to govern the Sudan. Even the initial Generals were called upon by protesters to overthrow Marshall Al-Bashir.
The regimes of Nimeiri and al-Bashir were based on extremism. They never tolerated criticism or challenges of any kinds. There came a time, when mentors got into trouble with protegees. Nimeiri quickly put leaders of the SCP to firing squad, killing them, including Abdel Khaliq Mahghoub,, General Secretary of SCP. Al-Bashir, furiously reacted to attempts to strip him of some presidential powers. He dismissed his mentor – Al Turabi and his loyalists from government, the party, and the legislature. The remaining is a tale in history, to be narrated by anyone conversant with modern Sudan, a country characterized by surprises and struggle for survival.
The current arrangement of governance in the Sudan, projects three distinct organs of government, viz : State Sovereign Council (SSC), Council of Ministers (CM) and Legislative Assembly (LA). In addition to the Judiciary (not mentioned so far) which is bound to undergo changes.
The leader of the SSC and members and those in the CM have to know and understand one another to avoid clash of identity and personality. They should keep away from disdainful and provocative attitude toward each other. They should uphold the principles of collaborative solidarity in order to promote the fundamental interests of the Sudanese people and address their many immediate concerns.
It is proposed that the CM should comprise ‘technocrats’. This spitting image term may mean different things for two or three persons, depending upon the understanding of the term in question. It may mean skillful, specialist, high-tech know-how person. Sometimes it is used to refer to a non-partisan person, or a person who is not in public service who performs his or her duties without being bogged down by allegiance of loyalty. If any of the meaning outlined here is meant, then our ‘technocrat’ could not be found anywhere in the Sudan. Because technocrat is a member of a community. He or she cannot be aloof of any associations or concerns of the community. This means that the presupposed neutral technocrat is indirectly allied to one group or simply sympathetic to its political ideology. This kind of reality should be considered. It can cause polarization within the CM, if ignored.
Someone can argue that the better option is to try to achieve inclusiveness in the CM by selecting candidates from the political organizations without exception for ministerial posts, so that the CM represent the many political groups in the Sudan. Such balancing will not be contested and will produce desires to cooperate. A limited CM is desirable. The number of 21 is manageable in terms of cost. The PM should nurture collaborative solidarity with the SSC.
The Legislative Assembly (LA) of 300 members is too many for a transitional period. It will become a theatre of quarrel and bickering. A 175 LA is reasonable, who are tasked to draw up a new Constitution. It should appoint a Constitution Commission, subject to its supervision, but under the control of the SSC. The Commission should be assisted by a technical panel (TP) and a Secretariat. Members of the TP can be selected from Universities, colleges and professional bodies on strict criteria.
The SSC, CM and LA have daunting tasks ahead. These include:
States and international organizations that have imposed sanctions on human rights or other grounds should be engaged in dialogue, to urge them to lift their sanctions. Lifting of sanctions and removal of the Sudan from any black-list will encourage in-flow of foreign investments.
South Sudan Oil:
The SSC should enter into negotiation with South Sudan (SS) on matters related to crude oil, the utilization of Sudan’s pipeline, etc. The adoption of rigid stance may be counter-productive.
b). High inflation and depreciation of Sudan’s Currency:
High inflation at 52.30% is very high. It means purchasing power is distorted as prices of consumer goods cannot be controlled or predicted. Add to this is continual worsening of exchange rate. This is a result of scarcity of foreign currency due to unnecessary restrictions and decline in exports. Sudan’s Forex policy should be changed to allow for free dealing in foreign currency in addition to floating the Sudan’s Pound.
c) Food Security:
Food security is not unique to the Sudan. It is a global concern that requires global solution. It is not only the problem of scarcity, but also the questions of both the quality of food and its price. The quality of food is deteriorating in terms of nutritional value whereas its price is rising beyond the means of most households.
For the Sudan, complaints about high-rise in price of food and its scarcity were the causes of discontent and protests way back in 2018.
Whether the protests were genuine, or not is difficult to confirm. It could have been used as a weapon to destroy the government of al-Bashir. It also was used to put pressure on the Transition Military Council (TMC).
The fact that people formed queues at bakeries across the Sudan for very long, someone may believe that there is crisis regarding the availability of bread and its affordability to all households. Hence, the call for investigation to ascertain the magnitude of the scarcity. There also is need to consider additional subsidies for all food products. A challenge for SSC and CM.
d) Energy Crisis:
Many states across the world are unable to provide adequate energy: fuel, electricity, etc. to meet domestic demands. The Sudan is not an exception. Its energy crisis goes back to the 1970s, due to high demands for energy, as a result of increase in the number of motor vehicle expansion in agricultural, industrial, transportation, communications, and medical activities. This could be proved by the presence of queues at filling stations. Many motorists, including this writer, used to spend hours and nights at filling stations waiting to be served. At the end, if one was lucky, a motorist was given 10 litres for one week. By 1980s, energy situation got worst. Electricity supply became erratic. Outages became the order of the day, forcing city residents and businesses to acquire generators.
During war in South Sudan, Khartoum supplied fuel to filling stations in northern Sudan from oil they looted from oil fields in South Sudan (unity field abound Bentiu). After 2011, Khartoum lost its control on oilfields in South Sudan. This immediately affected supply of oil to north Sudan, resulting in shortages that is continuing even today.
The SSC and CM have to declare fuel and electricity crisis as a national disaster that must be urgently resolved or contained.
In the Sudan, unemployment is about 12.90%. This translate into about 6 million persons with job. It is higher among youth.
Unemployment in the Sudan is not bad compared to the following:
- South Sudan ……….. 29.0%
- Spain ………………… 14%
- Turkey ………………. 12.8%
- France ……………….. 8.50%
- India …………………. 6.0 %
- Canada ……………… 5.70%
- Saudi Arabia ……….. 5.70%
- Australia …………….. 5.00%
The SSC and CM to find ways to tackle unemployment among the youth. Recovery programme is required.
It has taken very long to agree on SSC, CM and LA. They are in place, now. They should direct efforts to restore trust in government, such trust will enable the government to reach agreement with those groups in Dar Fur, southern Kondofan, Southern Blue Nile, etc, that are fighting government. Such an agreement should focus on claims for greater autonomy.
The SSC and CM should direct attention to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In addition to ensuring economic transformation.
The greatest challenges are economic malaise, lack of trust between political actors and drawing of a new constitution for the Sudan.
To succeed the CM must be inclusive. And SSC and CM should cooperate and act in the spirit of a collaborative solidarity.
SIMON E. KULUSIKA is an Associate Professor at the Zambian Open University.
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