MASS PROTESTS CONTINUE AMIDST POLITICAL UNCERTAINTY IN SUDAN
On Sunday, 7 November, pro-democracy groups in Sudan launched two days of civil disobedience and strikes in the ongoing protest against the military coup last month. The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella organization of several different trade unions that were instrumental in bringing an end to President Omar al-Bashir’s thirty-year rule in 2019, promised continued protests until a civilian government is established. Pro-democracy groups have organized additional protests scheduled to take place on 13 and 17 November, raising fears of a potential crackdown by the military.
According to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, at least 14 people have reportedly been killed and more than 300 injured as a result of excessive force used by security forces. Security forces also continue to arrest and arbitrarily detain civilians, journalists, human rights defenders and others. Internet and telecommunication have been disrupted since the coup, limiting people’s access to information and inhibiting reporting on human rights violations.
With security forces controlling the streets, populations in Sudan are at increased risk of atrocity crimes due to their history of violent crackdowns on protests and dissent. During mass demonstrations against military rule between December 2018 and August 2019, security forces used teargas and live ammunition against largely peaceful protesters, killing more than 200 people and arresting thousands. Security forces reportedly fired teargas at protesters in several locations in the capital, Khartoum, on 7 November. Amidst the ongoing protests, mediation efforts by the United Nations and others that aim to restore the civilian-military partnership continue.
The military coup has been widely condemned by the international community. On 27 October the African Union suspended Sudan from all its activities. Several states and multilateral organizations, including the United States and the World Bank, paused foreign aid and halted disbursements. On 5 November the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution during a special session that designated an Expert on Human Rights to monitor and report on the developing situation in Sudan since the coup.
Juliette Paauwe, Senior Research Analyst at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, stressed that, “Sudan’s military and political leaders must prioritize human rights and the protection of civilians in any discussion regarding the country’s future. Instead of forcing a new power-sharing arrangement, the international community must ensure that the Sudanese people’s demands for democracy and justice are sufficiently taken into account. Calls for a restoration of the pre-coup situation will not lead to a sustainable solution.”
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) is an independent organization that focuses on conducting research analysis and advocacy in relation to mass atrocity.
EDITORIAL ANALYSIS– MASS PROTESTS CONTINUE AMIDST POLITICAL UNCERTAINTY IN SUDAN – GCR2P
Political figures, particularly so-called liberators, have commanded enormous idolization across the African continent for a long time. It is not inappropriate to show respect to individuals in positions of power. African leaders, on the other hand, must accept gratitude while also understanding that it is contingent on effective governance and accountability.
Citizens must take an active role in a country’s internal affairs and demand effective governance. As Mashamaite (2009) puts it, the citizen is supposed to be the sentinel and guardian of African democracies, just as it is anywhere else in the world. In fact, civilians are doing precisely that in Sudan. They are demanding the restoration of civilian administration amidst the ongoing protests. During an interview with Aljazeera, one protestor said, “Our brothers have been arrested, our brothers have been killed. The head of the army has to be held accountable.” The protestors say they will only stop when a civilian government is in charge.
Mr. Omar al-Bashir is mostly to blame for Sudan’s troubles. Any type of logic cannot justify Sudan’s ongoing military takeover. Those who disregard citizens’ demands do so because al-Bashir has demonstrated how easy it is to disregard ordinary people’s interests.
Africans must understand that political and military leaders are human beings whose actions are meant to serve the people, not the people considering politicians as gods. Military commanders and politicians cannot determine the course forward when they fail to serve the people.
Therefore, before blaming the international community for failing to intervene in accordance with the R2P Principle, citizens must use their democratic right to good governance. When citizens fail to participate in internal matters, they become responsible for the collapsing state.
The GIA is a research-based security firm, whose primary purpose is to contribute to safer communities and world order.