The most significant story coming from Africa over the past few months has been undoubtedly the confrontation of the people against the outdated military system led, until recently, by Omar al-Bashir. New African, as the continent's chronicler of record for the past fifty years, has followed the events closely as they have unfolded. In this Cover Story, NA's Editor Anver Versi analyses the current state of play in that country and in part two, writes an essay on why what is happening in Sudan is a test case for African democracy.
Our last cover story (June 2019) asked 'What are the limits of people power?' in reference to the massive series of protests in Sudan that led to the ouster of Omar al-Bashir and the opening of talks between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the leaders of the protest movement.
At that stage, it seemed that reason had prevailed and that the military which has ruled Sudan for well nigh five decades (with intermittent civilian governments) had finally realised that the era of government through the barrel of a gun had been overtaken by history and was willing to relinquish power, rightly, to a civilian democratic system. By so doing, it would keep in step with political developments in the rest of Africa where civilian governments--for better or worse--are in charge of their nations.
The point of discussion in our Cover Story was to ask whether a mass protest mobilised against a perceived common enemy could transform itself into a structured organisation capable of governing a nation as vast as Sudan, while maintaining law and order as it worked towards meeting the aspirations of the nation.
We did this keeping in mind the salutatory lessons of the largely failed Arab Spring uprisings, where similar mass protests had either been strangled soon after birth, as in the case of Egypt, or had descended into utter chaos, as in the case of Libya. Tunisia and Algeria on the other hand, have shown that people power could indeed force change although the transition would be fraught and often uncomfortable.
History indicates that similar popular uprisings have had to undergo often severe birth-pangs before the new entity, conceived through overwhelming public desire, could complete the transition and emerge as a young but henceforth robust new system, in which the wishes and needs of the majority prevailed over the interests of a powerful elite.
The French, Russian, American, Chinese, Cuban, and in more recent times...