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The 'Next Day' in Sudan

The 'Next Day' in Sudan

Thursday, 18 April, 2019 - 08:30
Salman Al-dossary
Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper
Political change is rarely successful if it is carried out quickly and dramatically. In the case of military regimes that have governed for decades, the consequences of change are very costly.

Historically - especially in Arab countries where the Arab Spring is a blatant example - change often brings the worst, not the best, because of the absence of political organizations and civil society components capable of compensating for the vacuum created by the overthrow of regimes that last long in power.

However, developments in Sudan after about a week of the isolation of former President Omar al-Bashir and the assumption of the Transitional Council of power - without bloody or armed clashes – comes in contrast to that rule, and proves that the Sudanese people have so far succeeded in ousting Bashir with minimal damage and greatest gains.

Even the echo of change in the military institution resounded differently. To this very moment, the army has been greatly responsive to the demands of protesters, and the Transitional Military Council asked the political forces to present an agreed national figure to head the civil government during the transitional period - a surprise that was not even expected by those who were hoping the military would not seize power.

Prior to that, the Council president Awad Ibn Auf withdrew a day after his nomination, and issued a series of strong decisions, including the removal of senior officials from their posts in the judiciary, the army, and the media, in response to demands of protesters
and the opposition.

To date – a week after the ousting of Bashir - the NTC has been able to rally support from major Arab countries, which enabled it to neutralize international positions in a positive manner, and to avoid the emergence of confrontational international positions that would jeopardize the confidence of the Sudanese people in it. This will help the Council to impose itself as a system capable of managing the interim phase until the full handover of power to the elected civilian government.

Similar transitional periods, in which major political transformations occurred, have seen differences and tensions, even disturbances. This would have been normal to witness in Sudan, as in other countries where such changes have taken place. Yet, the winds of change in Sudan are clearly different. Who knows, maybe a surprise may come again, 34 years the experience of Marshal Zuwar al-Dahab in 1985, when he transferred the rule peacefully and voluntarily waived the power.

Certainly, it is impossible to say that Sudan was able to overcome the critical transitional phase. At the same time, the growing trust between the transitional council on the one hand and the street on the other is the only guarantee for the Sudanese to emerge from their crisis with minimal losses.

The real fear comes from the absence of a “next day strategy” by the opposition, which apparently did not expect the regime to fall so easily, did not prepare well for Sudan’s next day without Bashir and failed to form a civilian government to run the transitional period, the election of parliament and the restructuring of the constitutional court.

Moreover, the sit-in is still going on in front of the army headquarters, a dilemma that will not be in the interest of Sudan if it persisted for a long time. Therefore, the fears remain valid in view of the many disagreements over the political forces’ vision of the transitional arrangements. One should also not disregard the fact that the popular movement that participated in the protests is wide, varied and composed of all the spectrums, professional unions, and political parties. If they were able unite their goals to overthrow Bashir, the ambiguity of the next day strategy is undeniable.

In the wake of its absence, the gap is growing between the demands of protesters and the rising ceiling of requirements by the opposition. Major transformations deserve some small concessions for a better future.

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