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    The roots of Sudan’s internal crisis

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    May 02, 2023

    The ongoing conflict is an alarming sign of a deep, multidimensional political crisis in Sudan (File/AFP)

    Since April 15, Sudan has been experiencing a violent confrontation between the two armed heads of power, foreshadowing a dark moment in the country’s history. 

    This pivotal country, at the crossroads of the Sahel, East Africa and the Near East, has experienced deep political crises since its independence in 1956, with successive military coups and civil wars. 

    Initially devised by British colonial engineering as a multiethnic and multifaith central state encompassing disparate geographical and cultural spaces, the country has long suffered from the domination of the political-military elites of the north and center over the peripheral provinces, including the Christian south, which finally gained its independence in 2011 after decades of armed conflict. 

    The secession of Southern Sudan, however, did not end the country’s internal problems, with other rebellions emerging in Darfur, Kordofan and the Blue Nile province. These local conflicts have their origins in the distant past and are intertwined with complex regional challenges, including problems in the sub-Saharan Africa region. 

    The 2019 revolution marked the end of a long period of hegemony by the armed forces, in collusion with the Islamist movements that had seized power in 1989. This revolution was driven by a dynamic radical civic and citizen-led protest, which was successful after a fierce and harsh confrontation with the transitional authorities that took power after the ousting of Omar Bashir’s regime. 

    The transfer of power agreement, which was supposed to be concluded in early April, stalled over the army unification clause, which was aimed at integrating Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo’s Rapid Support Forces into the national army. After a long period of political dealings and intense debate, the attempt to unify the army as an institution failed.

    The main issue at stake concerns the modalities involved in any new restoration of the Sudanese state model, which is in deep trouble

    Seyid Ould Abah

    Thus, the current conflict is both an alarming sign of a deep, multidimensional political crisis and a confirmation of the tendency to militarize the political game in Sudan.

    The internal crisis is by no means limited to the struggles of the political clans, which we can classify into two main camps: The Forces of Freedom and Change that were supposed to manage the transitional period and the components of the Democratic Bloc, made up of the political-military movements close to the ruling military council. 

    The alternative envisaged is not confined to the (impossible) persistence of military rule or to the (largely utopian) transition to civil democracy. Both schemes leave the crucial questions of the Sudanese political equation unanswered.

    The main issue at stake concerns the modalities involved in any new restoration of the Sudanese state model, which is in deep trouble. Some people are already speaking of a new and inevitable division of Sudanese territory, with the “state of the river and the sea” (the north, the center and the east) having to separate itself from the “ungovernable” peripheries, which are said to be the causes of the “Sudanese disease.” This approach, though a minority in Sudanese politics, reflects the turbulent and critical landscape, fueled by ethnic and tribalist ideologies that are resistant to the idea of a central national state. The two major nationalist parties — the Mahdist National Umma Party and the Khatmite Democratic Unionist Party — are no longer able to provide a framework for internal political debate. These two parties, which in the past shared the representative apparatus of Sudanese democracy, no longer have a voice that is strong enough to pacify the boiling political scene. 

    The militarization of the political game can be seen in several phenomena, including the ideological refoundation of the national army undertaken by Bashir, the formation of community support groups as the RSF and the rise of armed rebel movements in areas of conflict with the central government. 

    The ongoing confrontation at the top of the military regime can only be understood if these two aspects of Sudanese political life are taken into consideration: The obstacles to the emergence of a united and supportive nation and the endemic violence due to the intense militarization of the local political field.

    • Seyid Ould Abah is a professor of philosophy and social sciences at the University of Nouakchott, Mauritania, and a columnist in several media outlets. He is the author of several books on philosophy and political and strategic thought. Twitter: @seyidbah 

    Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point of view

    SOURCE https://www.arabnews.com/node/2296361

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