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Could demonstrations mark a new phase of the revolution in Sudan?

This article is over 4 years, 5 months old
People are becoming frustrated at the lack of change, reports Charlie Kimber
Issue 2678
Protesters took to the streets again in Sudan earlier this month
Protesters took to the streets again in Sudan earlier this month (Pic: Sudanese Professionals Association)

Three months after a deal seemed to end the inspiring revolt in Sudan, protesters are back on the streets.

The Sudanese movement for democracy and social justice began in December 2018.

It saw courageous mass protests, general strikes and weeks of sit-ins across several cities.

It forced the military to remove dictator Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled for 30 years, and won other concessions. But it did not completely transform the political order or bring fundamental change in people’s living conditions.

A rotten agreement in August saw “power-sharing” between the Transitional Military Council (TMC), which took over after Bashir was overthrown, and the pro-democracy movement.

A sovereign council—comprising six civilian and five military members—oversees the government.

The council is led by lieutenant general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who headed the TMC. His Rapid Support Forces (RSF) carried out a massacre of 120 pro-democracy activists in June this year.

People took to the streets in the capital Khartoum and several other Sudanese cities last week.

They are frustrated at the slow pace of change—and demand the complete dismantling of the former regime.

The rallies were organised by the Sudanese Professionals Association, the spearhead of the protests this year. They also commemorated the 55th anniversary of the first popular uprising against a military regime in 1964.

The demonstrators did not call for the overthrow of the transitional government. Most people still hope that it can be made better.

But they called for it to fully implement the demands of the revolution, including the dissolution of the former ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

Demonstrators chanted slogans such as, “Blood for blood”, and, “The people want to take revenge for the martyrs.”


They condemned the government’s decision to not ban the NCP, and called to disband it and to confiscate its premises and assets.

People are bringing together big political issues and immediate concerns linked to the old order.

Doctors at the Nyala Teaching Hospital struck last week in protest against a recent attack by members of the RSF on a doctor and pharmacist.

In El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, hundreds of teachers held a protest last week. They demanded the payment of salary arrears and the removal of “symbols of the former regime” from the education ministry.

They also want the dissolution of the previous pro-regime fake trade unions.

People living in the city of Atbara in River Nile state are calling for action over bread shortages.

They accuse the owners of the bakeries and affiliates of the former regime of manipulating the flour quotas.

Atbara is where the revolt against Bashir began nearly a year ago. Having achieved some change, many people are recognising that they need to go further.

Writing about the 1848 revolutions in France, Karl Marx wrote that the February rising was “the nice revolution, the revolution of universal sympathies, because the contradictions which erupted in it were still undeveloped, because the social struggle which formed their background had only achieved an existence in phrases, in words.”

But a revolt in June, headed by workers and the poor, was “the ugly revolution, the nasty revolution, because the phrases have given place to the real thing”.

In every revolution there is a moment where people either accept half-reforms and trust “better” politicians to produce real change—or fight for transformation themselves.

In Sudan there is a battle over whether a new phase of revolution will begin.

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