Insights into Editorial: At a crossroads: protests in Sudan
Sudan’s long-time president Omar al-Bashir has been removed from office and arrested following months of protests against Bashir’s regime.
With this act three-decade rule of Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir has ended.
For the past four months, Sudan has been rocked by countrywide protests, leading to a military intervention last week which ejected Bashir from power, thereby ending his brutal 30-year rule. The protests have earned praise for employing peaceful methods.
Sudan has been engulfed by violence for more than a century, even while it was under the British-Egyptian colonial rule.
Since independence in 1956, the North African nation has seen sectarian violence, famines and political instability, the latest coup toppling Bashir being the fifth such forcible takeover.
Omar al-Bashir’s rule:
Omar al-Bashir became the country’s ruler in 1989 after he toppled a democratically-elected government.
After Bashir came to power, the country went on to adopt and enforce Saudi-sponsored orthodox Islam in Sudan.
Radical version, departing from the moderate Sufi tradition that it earlier followed. This caused great detriment to women’s rights and to the status of minorities.
Sudan became the nesting ground for the world’s jihadists and even sheltered Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.
The Bashir regime initially tried to deprive the movement of popular support by claiming that the rallies were backed by the rebel movement from the Darfur region.
This tactic boomeranged as the crowds grew in size, and the slogan “We are all Darfur” was raised. What began as a protest against price rise morphed into a mass movement, calling for Bashir’s resignation.
Sudan’s male-dominated Sharia-inspired setup also came under attack following which a tremendous women turnout was registered.
Women went on to constitute 70 per cent of the protesters. Religious leaders who supported Bashir were also denounced.
The Sudan protests due to rise in Inflation:
In December 2018, enacting austerity measures recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Sudan devalued its currency, the Sudanese Pound, and cut back on subsidies.
This led to a steep rise in inflation and food prices. The price rise in essential commodities sparked anger among the Sudanese people, who were already wary of Bashir’s autocratic rule.
Protests erupted in the eastern part of the country and soon reached the capital Khartoum.
What are the effects of hunger in Sudan?
Hunger anywhere can have long-term, debilitating consequences, but it can be particularly threatening during a complex crisis like the one in Sudan.
When people go hungry, they have trouble staying healthy and become more vulnerable to dangerous diseases, which is a weakness people sheltering in makeshift camps and communities can’t afford.
Their bodies are also not as strong or productive as they could be, which makes it difficult for them to work, find food and keep their families safe at a time when they urgently need the strength to do so.
Children’s development is also seriously impacted by hunger.
Without proper nutrition, they don’t hit critical developmental milestones, which can permanently inhibit their ability to learn and function for the rest of their lives.
Hungry children don’t learn as well, and they are also at a higher risk of disease.
According to UNICEF, more than 1 million children in Sudan are acutely malnourished, and 1 in 4 are stunted.
Who is most affected by the crisis?
Women and girls make up the majority of the displaced population and are disproportionately impacted by the conflict in Sudan.
Over half the population of the United Nations’ displacement sites is made up of women and girls, and 86 percent of Sudanese refugees in Uganda are women and children.
Sexual violence is also pervasive. Almost half of women and girls have reported experiencing abuse — even while most incidences of violence go unreported.
In addition, women and girls continue to bear the burden of family caretaking even during crisis.
In the face of heightened violence, recurring displacement and loss of livelihoods, daily tasks like collecting water and firewood can make them targets for attack.
Failure of governments leads to Army retaining Power:
This conflict was visible in neighbouring countries where dictators fell amid public protests.
In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak resigned as President in 2011, but the military never gave up its privileges. In two years, it was back in power through a coup.
In Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down as President this month, but the army has retained power; protests still continue in the country.
The Sudanese protesters say they want an orderly transition under a civilian government.
Over three decades, Mr. Bashir and his military clique had used several tactics, from aligning with Islamists and banning political parties to suppressing dissent and unleashing paramilitaries against defiant regions, to stay in power.
Protests are still going on in Sudan despite 30-year rule of Omar al-Bashir replaced by military-led transitional council.
Protesters are looking for democratic government in the country as they believe military rule completely phased out. Protesters said that just five or six people have been replaced by another five or six people and regime remained the same.
But the recent economic crisis, especially after South Sudan split away with three-fourths of the oilfields, broke the regime’s back. Now, Mr. Bashir has quit.
The army should respect their demand and resolve the impasse. It’s time to replace the oppressive regime he built, with a much more inclusive, responsive and democratic civilian government.