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By Sonia Harim
Since Sudan got free from Al-Bashir’s clutches last April, lots of things have changed, very fast.
The famous Sudanese sit-in in front of the military headquarters in Khartoum would mark a complete different revolt, this time, it seems, with a happy end.
The revolution that began in mid December 2018 has had a high price for the Sudanese, but they fought for their rights regardless, after 30 years of dictatorship and repression. Women and children took the streets together with men, and they also died for the revolution that made their country become the new hope of the area today.
After the armed forces removed the dictator from power in April 11, the Transitional Military Council replaced Al-Bashir and was responsible for assessing the country’s issues, from the economic crisis and austerity to the general disgust for the decades long regime.
However, things were not safe there. On the 3rd of lJune, the military and members of the Janjaweed militia performed what became the Khartoum massacre, in which more than 100 peaceful protestors perished. That is not new to Khartoum, which has seen rivers of blood when protesting against the government in the past. The new prime minister – an economist – is aiming to prosecute those individuals that were identified as having taken part in the violent massacre in June, where rape and murder were extremely widespread, regardless of the victims’ gender.
This past July, the country began legally the transition towards democracy, the military gradually leaving its power to civilian individuals, like the current prime minister Abdallah Hamdok.
It has been 71 years that Sudan hadn’t seen anything remotely close to democracy, as its last parliamentary elections were in 1948. Omar Al-Bashir’s pending trial and an economic rescue plan are to be served in the coming months, together with measures to revert the austerity plan that has been so heavy on citizens and their basic needs.
On 29 November 2019, the National Congress Party – Al- Bashir’s Islamist party – formally dissolved, and the “Public Order Law” – common in many countries where Islamist parties have power to apply Shari’a-based laws targeting mainly women – has been abolished as unconstitutional.
In spite of all the carnage on its back, Sudan is now open for tourists to visit, visas being easier to obtain for international tourists. In their aim of opening up the country and the economy, Sudan has been receiving foreign aid (mainly from Qatar, as well as support from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates) in order to get its economy back to where it should be, as it has been suffering from extreme inflation and corruption.
Nonetheless, given that the Middle East has seen power conflicts all around it, we should ask ourselves until what point the aid sent and the interest shown in Sudan’s benefit is really genuine and without interest.
- Who would benefit on Sudan’s awakening?
- Will some countries, out of interest, see that this new era upon us can be beneficial even if fully democratic – unlike many Middle Eastern countries – or will there be another wave to establish a leader that works in the same line as other Middle Eastern leaders, as has been the tendency for so long?
Elections are expected for 2022, and from now until then, the new government should begin the process towards democracy, an austerity-free economy and uplifting measures to recover the country from all the pain and hardship it has endured in these last three decades: not only Khartoum and the most important cities, but also the more neglected areas, generally located in the periphery.
Given that elections will be two years from now, the council agreed on shifting power – always with civilians keeping an eye to avoid coups d’état – between a military member and a civilian one, according to the plan stated until a population-based government is finally achieved after elections.
The relation with South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011 from Sudan – South Sudan being rich in oil, which devastated Sudan’s economy – will also be part of politics from now on, aiming to restore fruitful relations.
It is up to the United States, however, to decide whether to lift up Sudan from the list of sponsor of terrorism, as it would greatly help Sudan and its economy, now that the path to democracy is being shaped.