The coup in Sudan – The Nation

  • Soldiers do not need two years to restore democratic order

EVEN as democracy wobbles in Africa, the continent must say a resounding NO to military incursion into politics. The military who have taken over power in Sudan must therefore retrace their steps, before it is too late. Without doubt, the calamitous impact of decades of jackboot politics has left the continent a laggard in world affairs. So, the effort by the Sudanese military to take advantage of the fall of Omar al-Bashir from power should be resisted by African and other world leaders.

Agreed that Sudan could slip into anarchy if the vacuum created by the fall of al-Bashir is not filled, the military could use their influence to aide a transition to participatory democracy, instead of foisting autocracy. There are examples to copy. The Zimbabwean model easily comes to mind. There, the military stood in the gap as the country wriggled through the crisis created after the fall of Robert Mugabe. The Nigerian example saw Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar hand over to a civilian government after the death of the dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, in a matter of months. Less noble is the Egyptian model, but still better than a military regime.

So, when the Sudanese military asks for a two-year transition, panic set in that they will use the two years to entrench themselves. Young Sudanese believe that the military were part of the country’s problem, as they created the bulwark of support that enabled al-Bashir’s dictatorship last for 30 years. So, they are right to reject the military regime taking advantage of the leadership vacuum to take over power. The world should support them to finish the fight once.

Sudan needs a turning point, if it has to make progress. But it must watch out, to avoid the calamity that befell Europe around 1848, when a burgeoning revolution turned into a farce. It must not be like France in particular where a revolution in 1789 turned to existential nightmare until the return of another dictator in the person of Napoleon Bonaparte. As things are, the gory years of al-Bashir regime will take decades to erase, so the Sudanese people must avoid slipping into a worse nightmare arising from leadership crisis. For the remaining and burgeoning dictators in Africa, the fall of al-Bashir should serve as a lesson. No single person owns a country, no matter how important such a person thinks he is. Instead of allowing democracy to flourish, leaders like Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda are equating themselves to the survival of the country. Regardless of their achievements as political leaders, they can never become synonymous with their country’s survival.

Perhaps Africa is in a decade of fallen dictators? What started as a crisis in many North African countries, also claimed a scalp in Sub-Saharan Africa. We witnessed it in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Zimbabwe and now Sudan. Could it be a sign of the awakening for the African continent, and a warning to its callous leadership to mend their ways? No doubt, Africa has suffered in the hands of its leaders in the past 50 years and needs a new beginning.

Of note, the major crisis facing the continent is that of internal security and a parlous economy. Tragically, both are feeding on each other. While poverty creates insecurity, insecurity engenders more poverty. The crisis in Sudan arose from a debilitating inflation, made worse by foreign exchange crisis. Now that the people have successfully ousted the Ancien Regime led by Omar al-Bashir, what appears a turning point for Sudan must be what the people have fought for, not a farce.

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