Sudan crisis

Updated June 24, 2019

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AMONGST the revolutionary slogans and placards raised by protesters in Sudan, there were three words that stood out as a forewarning if the country continued on the blood-spattered path it is on — “Victory or Egypt”.

Indeed, recent events in the northeast African nation have unfolded in a manner that brings back memories of the Arab Spring that swept through the Middle East and north Africa nine years ago.

Nationwide uprisings led by a largely youthful population braved militias, tear gas, live ammunition and arrests in order to overthrow the three-decade-long old order of former president Omar al-Bashir.

The military dictator is accused of overseeing genocide; he is wanted by the ICC on several counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

But it was rising inflation, particularly the high price of bread and fuel, which sparked his eventual downfall.

Since his removal through a military coup, the Transitional Military Council has taken over for a two-year period, before civilian rule can be implemented, it said.

Barely two months later, however, the TMC grew restless.

It withdrew from a power-transfer deal with the protesters and called for early elections.

On June 3, around 128 peaceful protesters were brutally murdered by a militia supported by some within the country’s divided military.

At least 40 bodies were retrieved from the Nile, and there are claims of rape being committed as a tactic to silence dissent.

Incidentally, rape was also one of the crimes against humanity carried out by Omar al-Bashir in the Darfur massacre.

When power vacuums are created after long periods of repression, they are often filled by other forms of dictatorship that are sometimes more oppressive than what came before.

But if power does not change hands through the will of the people, the latter find no way of getting rid of an entrenched status quo other than mass agitation — and often assassination.

While some fear another Egypt — or worse, Syria — we can only pray the Sudanese protesters are able to successfully carve their own path in the history books.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2019