Sudan’s military leaders, that took control in a military coup last month, stepped up their assaults on democracy protesters last weekend.
But they still face waves of protests, street occupations and strikes that could topple them.
Last Sunday activists took over sections of major cities. They built barricades and kept out the authorities.
In many cases it was young activists who led the way, courageously refusing to back down even when the army arrived and began attacking people.
A new wave of strikes sparked as well, hitting schools, pharmacies, universities and other sectors. The army and police struck back.
A teachers’ union said last Sunday that security forces used tear gas at the education ministry building for Khartoum State.
This was to break up a sit-in staged to oppose any handover to military appointees. They arrested 119 people, including 54 teachers.
“We organised a silent stand against the decisions by al-Burhan outside the Ministry of Education,” Mohamed al-Amin, a geography teacher, told the AFP news agency.
“Police later came and fired tear gas at us though we were simply standing on the streets and carrying banners.”
In the Burri neighbourhood of capital Khartoum and across the river in the Ombada area of Omdurman, police also used tear gas to break up protests.
But people still came on the streets, with women playing a leading role.
There were protests too in the cities of Medani, Nyala and Atbara. Hundreds protested against the reappointment in local government of people loyal to the former regime of Omar al-Bashir.
Bashir was removed by strikes and protests in 2019
Most regional groups that oppose central government control have denounced the coup. The Sudanese Revolutionary Front has also denounced the military.
It includes leading figures from Darfur and South Kordofan.
Local neighbourhood resistance committees, set up to organise food distribution, medical services and much more, continue in some areas. Activists have now targeted this Saturday for a new round of major rallies under the slogan, “No negotiation, no partnership, no compromise.”
Protesters’ determination is not in doubt.
But there are serious questions of the resistance to the military.
The scale of mobilisation last weekend was smaller than the week before.
Instead of a million on the streets there was less involvement, with stalling of the furious outpouring.
Activists put up barricades that are then cleared by the security forces.
Strikes take place for one or two days but then workers return.
All of this strengthens the pressures towards a compromise deal (see below).
The only guaranteed way to force back the military is to push for a general strike that continues until all the generals are removed.
Combined with mass demonstrations, as well as strengthening and spreading the neighbourhood resistance committees, such action can still break the military’s hold.
Sudan’s military knows they face real resistance. So they are manoeuvring for a deal that will give the appearance of civilian control while they still pull the strings.
A host of regional and global powers have rushed to meet coup leader General Abdel-Fattah Burhan to ask him to do a quick deal. They fear that revolts in other parts of Africa and the Middle East might be encouraged.
Burhan’s visitors included Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman. It also included officers from the Israeli secret service Mossad, and senior envoys from the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Russia and the United Nations.
Any deal that Burhan endorses will be poisonous. It will be a front for a continuing military stranglehold over key parts of the economy.
It will also rule out any genuine settling of accounts for the army’s role in the mass killings in Darfur from 2003 and the slaughter of protesters in Khartoum in June 2019.
The US and its allies say the coup must be reversed. But they will eagerly accept a compromise so long as it can be smuggled past the Sudanese people.
Western imperialists will also ensure that the neoliberal policies of the International Monetary Fund are added to any such deal.
Last week the Sudanese Professionals Association, which has played an important role in resistance to the coup, made a clear statement that it would not sign up to agreements with the military.
It also said mediation initiatives that “seek a new settlement” between the military and civilian leaders would “reproduce and worsen” the country’s crisis.
But such a deal can be defeated only if there are clear alternatives.
This is not time for compromises, but instead saying that the only place for the military is behind bars.
And instead of a transitional government there has to be one based on the neighbourhood committees and the networks that striking workers have created.
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