05 February, 2019
KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Sudanese demonstrators have been flooding the streets of the capital Khartoum and other state cities for the seventh week successively as of now.
What began as living demand protests against rising prices, bread scarcity and lack of liquidity has quickly transformed into political-agenda demands calling upon president Al-Bashir to step down and renounce power.
Total fatalities have so far amounted to 30 as per statistics released by a government investigation committee, while activists say that at least 53 persons have been killed so far. More than three thousand demonstrators, mostly political activists and students, have also been detained.
Sudanow talked to a number of political analysts to explore their views on possible consequences and conclusions to the current situation:
Weighing Up the Odds:
In his statement to Sudanow, political analyst Mr. Abdelrahman Alamin expressed his view that the protests did start as living-demand protests in River Nile (Atbara) and Red Sea states, but they quickly caught political agenda with the joining of some politicians and members of the professional association group.
Mr. Alamin added that the protests have gradually gathered up force as sustained street opposition demanding the stepping down of president Al-Bashir and the formation of a transitional regime to negotiate a way out of Sudan’s current economic, political and constitutional crises. The final outcome of such transitional period, as per opposition demands, would be the launching of free, fair and transparent elections.
As to the government’s approach, Mr. Alamin explains that the government is holding fast to its stand about the protests being motivated by living and economic demands, with government officials continually maintaining that the government is in the process of crafting remedies of reform such as providing employment opportunities, lifting bans on certain activities and launching debate forums with protestors.
These remedies are summed up in a statement made by Lieutenant General Salah Goush, Director of Intelligence and Security, where he admitted that his government had made numerous blunders such as closing down public amusement parks, theatres and cinemas in the face of younger generations. He reiterated the need to encourage, promote and fund artistic and theatrical youth activities, and to abandon certain fanatic views in order to move forward with economic reforms.
According to analyst Alamin, such views about required remedies indicate that the government is quite assured of its solid stronghold on security and does not recognize the political power of its opponents. Therefore, this situation of street political unrest and congestion is expected to continue in light of such obstinate government’s attitude, and consequently whoever manages to weigh up the odds in the right way would emerge out as winner.
Dr. Adam Mohammed Ahmed, professor of political sciences at Bahri University, stated that the use of excessive force in oppressing the economic and political protests bears resemblance, and could possibly lead, to the scenario of 2013 demonstrations.
Dr. Adam also told Sudanow that the use of excessive force would only add up to the fire, indicating that he has noticed for the first time a popular opinion consensus against the government’s policies due to the use of excessive force by security forces, and the release of irresponsible and insensitive statements by certain leaders of the Islamic movement and the ruling National Co ngress party against the Sudanese citizens in general and the protestors in particular, adding insult to injury.
Dr. Adam called upon the Sudanese government to take urgent measures to reach a credible and comprehensive political settlement to this bottle-neck situation, especially that the odds are not in the government’s favor right now.
Dr. Adam also expressed concern that the protests could take a more violent turn if the government maintains its current repressive attitude and use of excessive force against demonstrators.
Accordingly, Dr. Adam advised that instead of vain propaganda about the 2020 elections target, with less than 9 months ahead, the government should seriously seek a political solution out of its current crisis.
Political analyst and strategic studies expert Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, of Al-Azhari University, is of the opinion that it is difficult to foresee any consequences or final trends to the current protests and street demonstrations, since the motives and reasons behind such protests and demonstrations stand unresolved.
Dr. Ibrahim admits the transformation of protest agenda from economic to political demands, but attributes this transformation to accumulated failures by the government to find a decisive way out of ongoing economic crises since very long time, and particularly so since 2013-protest demonstrations.
Dr. Ibrahim told Sudanow that the only radical solution available, in his opinion, was a change of regime through legitimate means. He explained that the continuation of protest demonstrations for almost two months so far should act as a clear referendum message to the government that sedative and tranquilizer treatments, such as issuance of more or new higher-value paper notes or raising salaries, are no longer feasible.
Dr. Ibrahim stated that the government should have the political will to respond to people’s demands and to apply a strong-hand policy to curb and fight political and economic corruption instead of wasting time replicating previous failed scenarios of political debate.
Dr. Ibrahim further said the government should take into account that political change is inevitable, especially that the government now spends billions of dollars in subsidies for flour while the living situation in other states outside the capital Khartoum is getting worse day by day.
In spite of the gloomy picture, Dr. Ibrahim says that he can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
It is noteworthy that at the time this interview was going on, the security forces were using intensive tear gas to disperse a large demonstration organized by the professional association group end of last January.
Political analyst Professor Hassan Mekki termed the current turbulent situation the “pre-hurricane” period, noting the fact that the storms of popular-protest demonstrations have gathered up more qualitative force with the joining of new currents such as the support of Khartoum university professors as well as other entities and actors, even from within government institutions.
He takes the numerous visits by government leaders and officials to attend and address already-planned gatherings at the states, while the centre of government (Khartoum) boils up in protest, as an escapist effort to avoid and evade facing the real audience.
Dr. Hassan expressed hope that the situation would be solved urgently to avoid undesired outcomes.
On his part, political analyst Dr. Hassan Al-Saoori, tends to see things from a different prospective. He does expect that night demonstrations will continue in Khartoum, but he doesn’t think that would lead to a fall of regime, as the ruling party will reciprocally mobilize supporters from other states.
Dr. Al-Saoori also excludes the possibility of the armed forces taking sides with protestors as happened in 1964 and 1985. Therefore, he expected that the demonstrations would gradually calm down, while token demonstrations might continue to be held monthly or annually in commemoration.
So whether the protests will attain their goals or the status quo will remain during the coming period or a different approach in handling the country’s crisis will appear is anybody's guess.
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