Shifting sands of North Africa.

Author:Versi, Anver
Position:From the Editor
 
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Over the last month, we have seen some momentous shifts in North Africa--Sudan is considered part of the North African region although it intersects with Sub-Saharan Africa--the ramifications of which are likely to have long-term ripples over political development in the rest of the continent.

Simultaneous, but unconnected, huge public protests defenestrated long-entrenched leadership regimes in Algeria and Sudan, forcing Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Omar al-Bashir out of office. Both regimes had relied on extensive and powerful intelligence services and brutal crackdowns to silence public disapproval and heavily armed military to enforce compliance.

In both cases, faced with ever-swelling numbers of protesters who refused to be cowed by brutal beatings and detentions, the guns reached the limits of their potency to generate fear and became useless. In the case of Sudan, some of the army turned on their commanders and fought back, several soldiers losing their lives in their efforts to protect the people.

In Algeria, Bouteflika, who had become little more than a figurehead for the regime, stepped down but the protesters were not satisfied and have continued (at the time of writing) to demand a total dismantling of the structure of the regime and a fresh start.

In Sudan, the military made a last-ditch effort to remain in power by staging a palace coup against Bashir but the public refused to accept the compromise. The former defence minister, Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, stepped down as chair of the interim military council and the dreaded head of intelligence and security, Salah Gosh was compelled to resign.

The more acceptable General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan took over the council. In a complete turnaround, he praised "the sacrifices made by Sudanese people, especially women and the young". He lifted the curfew that had been imposed, ordered the release of political detainees, pledged meaningful dialogue with all political forces and promised the formation of a civilian government.

The leading organiser of the movement, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), demanded "the transfer of power to a civilian transitional government in which the army participates but does not rule and lead".

At the time of going to press, the SPA had named a group of civilian negotiators to enter into dialogue...

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