THE SUDAN… HEADING WHERE?
By Sadiq AlMahdi
The Sudan is currently witnessing a state of sharp polarization …
The external opposition unified its ranks and rallied itself around the Asmara Resolutions of June 1995 The internal opposition unified its ranks and rallied itself around the June 1996 Memorandum. The ruling system proceeded to bestow a constitutional legitimacy on the hegemony of the National Islam Front (NIF) and used its own constitutional decree No. -13 as a means to legitimize its rule as well as its executive and legislative organs.
Such sharp polarization is coupled with the coupled realities:
(1) Retreat of the well-known Sudanese religious tolerance and its replacement by the notable sharp confrontation between Islamic thought on one hand Secular thought on the other. Moreover, the authoritative attempts of the NIF to monopolize the Islamic Slogan and to inappropriately associate it with every aspect of its narrow-minded partisan ideology has lead to sharp division within the national Islamic ranks which manifested themselves in the sharp ideological dispute between the regime’s vision of Islam and that of the Ansars and other Sufi sects. Other Islamic Orthodox and traditional schools of thought chose to cross with the regime’s approach and declared the regime as infidel and un-Islamic. As for those who belong to the Islamic Awakening camp, they opted for criticizing the credibility of the regime and the approach of its leaders and choose to flirt with the Islamic Awakenings thought theoretically while continued to practically go along with the regime’s trend of dispotisimand totalitarianism.
(2) The narrow-minded partisan Islamic address coupled with the Arab nationalist orientation that the regime picked through its association with the Iraqi “Baath” party has unavoidably lead to the alienation of the non-Moslem and non-Arab Sudanese groups who found themselves forced to contemplate other options such as separation and seriously question feasibility of unity in the prevailing circumstances.
(3) The sharp weakening of the Sudanese national fabric which found itself clustered either in a state despotically ruled by the NIF regime, or in wide areas ruled by the Armed Resistance Movement, an increasing big presence of Sudanese living in exile which continued to attract the cream of the Sudanese professionals and technocrats as well as A sizable share of the national wealth which estimated to account for 70 billion US dollars, as well as a flight of no less than one hundred tons of gold earned by the Sudanese people throughout the past centuries.
(4) The supersonic deterioration of the national economy is quite visible in all economic sectors. in the sphere of Industry .. out of 3100 factories in the Khartoum province only 240 are operating with difficulty. The agricultural sector was greatly sophicated by the most unpredictable regime’s policies of customs, duties and finance. The current agricultural season is facing the menaces of oil shortage, the inadequacies of finance policies and the security threats in most of the agricultural areas. The staggering price of mos of sorghum, the basic ingredient of the diet of the Sudanese rank and file, the sack of which reached 30,000 pounds, and which was only 70 pounds on the very day of the Coup, bears testimony to the failure of the regime’s agricultural policy. The dollar current price which reached 1600 pounds, only 14 pounds on the very day of the coup is an other example of the collapse of the national economy.
It is to be recalled that it took the dollar six years to reach 500 pounds on 30/6/1995. One year later and particularly on 30/6/1996 it reached 1600 pounds.
(5) The anti-government military fronts expanded from the South to the West to the East. The Southern Armed Resistance movement gained new allies along the boarders with all African neighboring countries. In Western Sudan and particularly in the Nuba Mountains, the influence of the armed resistance movement widened to the extent that it managed to isolate the weak governmental presence in the cities of Dilling and Kadogli. The security situation in Darfour is even worse, as the armed robbery operations became the “menu of the day” and even expanded themselves to the region of Kordofan. The seriousness of these operations lies in the tact that they did not only confine themselves to the commercial caravans but they hit official and governmental ones.
The severe military and security blow the regime received in those areas, was the refusal of most of the Arab tribes of the traditional zones to fight the forces of the Southern Resistance Movement and their conclusion of bilateral local peace agreements that flouted the philosophy of Jihad that the regime attempted to articulate.
(6) The negative far-reaching social consequences of the economic crisis which clearly manifested themselves in the unprecedented social gap between the few “NIF well-off” and the hardly hit “havenots”. Such gap is a direct result of the regime’s policies of nepotism and inflation. Among the other serious social consequences of the economic crisis is the spread of illegal and unethical practices. Those practices stained the Sudan with unprecedented financial, social and ethical corruption.
(7) The regime turned Sudan’s peaceful bilateral, regional, and international relations of animosity and confrontation. The Sudan under this regime lives in splendid isolation, condemned several times by The United Nations General Assembly in a manner no different from Apartheid South Africa. These shocking realities have forced some significant groups of the supporters of the regime to rethink the philosophy of the regime, appreciate most of the opposition programmes and quest for a peaceful outlet that can uplift the Sudan from the quagmire it is bogged in:
- Ten out of the fifteen members of the dissolved High revolutionary Council expressed their conviction that the NIF deceived them and hid from them its narrow-minded partisan orientation. They, now, openly condemn the regime’s situation.
- Most of the old guards and founders of the NIF now distance themselves from the regime’s practices and policies and are reaching out for a peaceful outlet. A sizable number of the military officers who used to entertain inclination for the NIF programme, who voted for the candidates in the 1986 elections and supported its coupe d’ etat of 1989, only tell disappointed in the regime’s fearless but practically took part in two recent military coup attempts.
- The Security organs which were formed to secure protection for the regime and received unlimited mandate to terrorize the citizens in the most inhuman and unethical manner, learned from their own experience in the suppression of the Sudanese political forces that the regime’s dilemma is a political than a security one, and hence they started to advise the regime to seek a political solution. They are now convinced that the security approaches of suppression and intimidation are just futile.
- The regime exploited the youngsters and teen-agers enthusiasm in that their readiness to enroll suppressing opposition street demonstrations and enrolling themselves as fighters in the regime’s so-called “Jihad War” in Southern Sudan many of those youngsters tough and perished in the war and declared by the regime as “martyrs”. However, the survivors discovered later that the policies of the regime failed to deliver the promised paradise of Justice and peace. They actually delivered the state of unprecedented corruption and nepotism.
The prominent think-tanks of the NIF who to preach for the NIF Islamic thought and who took the responsibility of defending the regime’s policies in their articles, books statements, now turned to be vocal critics of the regime and in most of their writings they sympathize with the opposition programmes. Among those thinkers are:
- Tayeb Zein El Abdin
- Abdel Wahab El Afendi
- Hassan Mekki
- Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed
- Amin Banani
Many of the mandate leading cadre of the NIF. In that unsuccessful attempt they discovered the depth of their crisis. They contemplated a systematic retreat from the “Salvation Revolution” declared programme but they feared that such retreat would bring them into direct clash with their NlF hard liners. The proclamation of the constitutional decree No . 13 was a product of that dilemma. The decree came as a fresh attempt to bestow some type of phony democracy on the “Salvation” trend. Subsequent to that decree the regime announced its renunciation of the Islamic Arab congress stereotypes and relinquished its old position regarding the philosophy of Jihad war in the South. All that came as an attempt by the NlF decision-makers to withdraw the rug from under the feet of their critics, to trigger disunity within the ranks of the opposition and to effect a crack in the determination international position.
The constitutional decree No. 13, the Sudan’s Peace Charter, the new foreign relations address and the regime’s new position towards Egypt are attempts to portray the regime as forsaking some of “the Salvation Cardinal Principles”. It is just as a crew throwing away some of its precious belongings when he feels that the ships at the brink of sinking.
The policy of relinquishing the basic principles of “Salivation” for the sake of maintaining power, wealth and arms in the hands of the NIF cadres could have succeeded two years earlier. Now there isn’t enough room for maneuver as sediments can no longer help in a situation where:
- The disputes within the different circles of the regime are quite visible to everybody. The regime’s self-proclaimed institutions such as the National Assembly are sending a lot of signals of unrest. Moreover, six of the Provincial Assemblies withdrew confidence from their provincial governments.
- Anti-government military fronts are widening and getting ready for a serious escalation before the end of the year.
- The situation within the students movement is exploding due to differences with the regime over a serious national and academic issues. Those differences are quite visible in the major national university such as Khartoum, Ahliya Omdurman and Nilein universities (Cairo Branch earlier).
- The situation within the workers circles is even more serious. Life hardships, high prices of basic commodities and services, lifting of subsidies and squandering the country’s meager resources on security and civil war projects have rendered life of the low-income groups impossible. The government appointed chairman of the Workers Trade Union recently condemned the government new financial policy and declared his Union’s intention of declaring a general strike in protest.
- The Business community is completely crippled due the regime’s policies of nepotism, corruption and unjust customs and duties, plus the policy of favouritism to the NIF businessmen. ‘This group currently in a state of undeclared war with the regime. In that war which all tactics of attritions are cunningly applied. Among those tactics are capital flight civil disobedience and general strike is even contemplated.
All the above mentioned can only confirm that the days of the “Salvation” regime are now numbered and that the genius of the Sudanese people is once more set vigor challenging despotism and tyranny with renewed vigor and determination.
The current situation in the Sudan stands as follows:
- A fragmented despotic regime replenished with some democratic cosmetics.
- An external and internal opposition holding; three serious scenarios:
- Confronting despotism with violence (scenario of the external opposition.
- Calling the government to undergo a democratic transformation as consistent with the June memorandum.
- The general political strike.
The nature of the regime and the magnitude of the crimes it committed have resulted into wide grievances that may lead to merging the third scenario into first one. Such combination could be of far reaching, negative consequences in a country of a continental tinge, with such huge diversities and abundance of arms in the hands of the ordinary citizens.
Nevertheless, the wisemen of the Sudan are still hoping for a peaceful democratic solution. They still expect that the International Community and the friends of the Sudan to confirm that they have no problem with the principles of Islam, since it is a matter to be decided by the Sudanese Moslems themselves…. and that they have no problem with the principles of the Sudan since it is a matter to be decided by the Sudanese people and its democratic majority. It is expected from them to reject the regime’s “Salvation” programme as has been rejected by the majority of the Sudanese people, because it is a minority party programme, imposed on the Sudanese people by force.
The international community is called upon to maintain the pressure on the regime with a view to relinquish its Lousy programme impoverished the country and tarnished the image of its external relations. Such pressure will definitely boost the internal position that is advocating the peaceful democratic settlement. The prospects for such settlement are still good. However, the two major questions connected with such settlement are whether such settlement will come before or after a reform movement within the regime that may fire away those elements who have been blinded by the quest of their own selfish interests or whether that such settlement be delayed until it is overtaken by either the scenario of confronting with violence of the popular uprising.
16 July 1996