Transitional fault lines threaten revolution.

Author:Collins, Thomas
Position:Sudan - Essay - Cover story

The people's revolution appears to have stabilised, with a framework leading to civilian democratic rule now in place. However, many issues and questions, including the future political and social identity of the country, are still causing deep divisions. Report by Thomas Collins.

Sudan's transitional fault lines threaten revolution

While the protests which brought an end to Omar al-Bashir's 30-year reign over Sudan were ongoing outside the military headquarters one evening in Khartoum, a different kind of stand-off was unfolding elsewhere.

Amid shouts of "no place for Islamists", dozens of protesters surrounded a building where the Popular Congress Party (PCP)--an Islamist group with close links to Bashir, founded by the late Hassan al-Turabi--were holding a meeting.

Emerging out onto the dusty streets, party members were met with a volley of rocks and improvised missiles as the two groups began to clash--leading to 67 injured.

While the revolution is led by a liberal and progressive cohort--championing female rights and youth participation, as well as seeking reconciliation with protesters such as those who had arrived on a bus from Darfur, where non-Arabised Sudanese have been the target of state-sponsored violence--the clashes with Islamists represent one of Sudan's many ideological fault lines, which have the power to derail the objectives of the revolution if aggravated.

The ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) has been struggling to find consensus with their civilian coalition counterpart--the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, led by the Sudanese Professionals Association--as they tirelessly debate the nature of the power structure which will lead their country into a new era.

As it stands, both sides have agreed on the structure of future authorities--a sovereign council, a cabinet and a legislative body.

A three-year transition period to a civilian administration has been set in place and the coalition body will hold two-thirds of the seats on the legislative council, the rest belonging to fringe opposition groups.

With the protesters ever-fearful of a military power grab, the main sticking point thus far has been the military-civilian balance on the sovereign council, as this body will act as the executive.

Yet subtler issues, outside the brute make-up of power, are also at play.

One draft constitutional document handed to the military council for review was rejected on the grounds that it did not refer to Islamic...

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