Trouble in Sudan refuses to die down - GulfToday

Trouble in Sudan refuses to die down

A view shows black smoke and fire at Omdurman market in Omdurman, Sudan. Reuters

A view shows black smoke and fire at Omdurman market in Omdurman, Sudan. Reuters

That the fighting between the two rival forces in Sudan – the army on the one hand, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSH), a militia-turned-political actor -- continue to fight despite the mediatory efforts made by Saudi Arabia and the United States shows that the two sides are fighting a political battle to gain control of the country as and when the elections are held. The RSF leader, Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, seems to be snatching political advantage. The army does not want to concede political influence to the RSF and Dagalo. Even if there had been elections, the losing party would not accept the defeat and wait for the next election. And the winner too behaves in a greedy manner, wanting to grab everything and leave no political space for the opposition. As a matter of fact, the civil society groups have been demanding that the army and RSF step aside so that a civilian government could be formed after the elections.

Sudan has been a troubled country for decades, especially under former leader Omar al-Bashir. The war in Darfur, which had attracted much attention in the West because of the Christian population, had left Sudan battered politically and economically. After Al Bashir has been thrown out of power, there has not been a strong consensus to build a democratic polity from the grassroots level to the head of the state. It is the fragile state structure that emboldens militia groups like the RSF, and even the army, to look for political opportunities to control the state and wield political power. But the armies, in Latin America, in Africa and in Asia, had often stepped to bring under control political turbulence, but once in power it was beyond them to lead the country into stability and prosperity. There is also the issue that in countries like Sudan, the outside powers have played an exaggerated role, which has only created more turbulence. And once in the political saddle, the armies became hugely questionable. And it is difficult to sustain such regimes and broken economies.

Political implosion of the kind that is being witnessed in Sudan creates problems for neighbouring countries as food shortages rise and people flee because it is the reign of the gun, and this creates problems in the neighbouring countries. Most Sudanese are fleeing to Egypt, Chad and even Darfur in South Sudan. It is this humanitarian crisis of displaced people that raises international concern. The attempt of the United States to impose sanctions on those companies supplying arms to the Sudanese armed rivals seems an act of political desperation on the part of the president of the United States. It is quite unlikely that if the US imposes sanctions on certain companies or arms manufacturers, wars will end in countries like Sudan. The solution lies in a stable democracy. It requires politicians and others who are inevitably involved in deciding policy, to accept defeat in elections, and the need for winners in elections to get rid of the idea that the winner gets all. Unless there is fair play, even the losers can continue to voice their opinion and be the critical watchdog over the governments. All this requires a lot of compromise, a play of give-and-take, and no one is a loser in the sense of being silenced in the political arena. Whether it is Tunisia, Senegal or Sudan, those wielding power must show the minimum decency of respecting the opposition. Democracy is indeed a game of patience and tolerance. It cannot be sustained any other way.

Related articles