It has now been over a year since the popular mobilization brought Sudan to a standstill and eventually led to the downfall of the one-party regime that had ruled the country for almost 30 years.
Under relentless popular and economic pressure, Omar Bashir’s government fell after key security forces had sided with the civilians. To an extent resembling the earlier 1964 October Revolution, this 2018 December Revolution was a demonstration of the Sudanese people’s remarkable ability to come together and peacefully and successfully challenge a highly repressive regime supported by a number of foreign powers especially in the Gulf.
Equally remarkable was the civilians’ ability to negotiate relatively favorable conditions for the transitional government in a situation in which the army had effectively seized power from the old regime. Despite initial reluctance by the Transitional Military Council (TMC), civilian representatives became an important part of the government and occupied significant posts in the Sovereign Council which is to govern the country for a three-year period until elections will be held. Although military officials command a majority in the 11-member council which is headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, civilians secured five positions in it as well as the highly important position of the prime minister. A 300-member Legislative Assembly is to ensure democratic governance during the transitional period.
In August, shortly after the formation of the Sovereign Council, a highly popular economist Abdalla Hamdok was appointed as the Prime Minister. The most obvious expectation was that he would be the one to remedy Sudan’s deep economic problems which had been an important factor triggering the December Revolution. But correctly realizing that Sudan’s economic ills were largely related to protracted armed conflicts, the concentration of economic power in the hands of the old regime, and endemic corruption, Hamdok has sought to remedy these issues underlying the economic malaise.
In October last year, the transitional government set an ambitious six-month deadline to put an end to the intractable armed conflicts which have devastated especially the country’s periphery almost incessantly since the 1980s.
The following month, in a courageous move, the Sovereign Council passed a law to dismantle the old regime, banning the former ruling faction, the National Congress Party (NCP), and confiscating its assets. Led by immensely wealthy and politically powerful individuals with strong connections to the state’s security apparatus, the NCP had commanded a sophisticated politico-economic network penetrating the society to the extent that had allowed the organization to maintain power for almost three decades. Dismantling its structures and charging its key individuals for corruption and financial crimes are likely to go a long way towards building a more equal political and economic playing field in Sudan. Other measures, such as repealing the Public Order Law, which had restricted public behavior in a number of ways, were adopted, while the Sovereign Council initiated peace negotiations with Sudan’s various rebel groups.
Hamdok has also embarked on a diplomatic mission to look for external support for increasingly democratic Sudan. In December he visited the United States (US) and made an appeal for American backing of the recent democratic developments in Sudan and suspension of the remaining US sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy. In January, Hamdok made a landmark visit to Southern Kordofan, the home of the Nuba people seeking self-determination under the rebel umbrella of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) after the independence of South Sudan in 2011. This, along with ongoing negotiations to end the continuing violence in Darfur, is a much welcomed step for resolving the protracted armed violence in Sudan and putting the country on a path for political and economic stability.
The opinions expressed in this text are solely the author’s point of view and do not bind the Center for International Studies, its Director or any other researcher. Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok / photo by CH / CC BY-SA 4.0
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