Sudan’s revolution in danger!

Aug. 2019 Sudan Students 31JUL19

Students protest in Khartoum, July 31, a day after youths were shot in the town of al-Obeid during a rally against bread and fuel shortages.

By STEVE XAVIER

Beginning in December, demonstrations and strikes paralyzed Sudan for months, leading to the removal of the dictator, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir on April 11. The coup was an attempt by the military to preserve the regime by putting on a new face. Al-Bashir’s military-installed replacement lasted less than 48 hours as the masses continued to mobilize and insisted on a transition to a civilian government.

A general strike, on May 28-29, shut down industry, ports, transport, and government ministries with high levels of participation by workers. The general strike was followed by violent repression on June 3 as demonstrators took to the streets. Government-aligned militias slaughtered more than 120 people, raped protesters and medical personnel, and wounded more than 700.

On July 5, the military and civilian opposition forces reached an accord to end the months of unrest. U.S. imperialism and their regional allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, exerted enormous pressure on both the movement and the TMC to reach a deal. Similar pressure to resolve the situation came from both Russia and China, which have economic interests in the country.

Under the agreement, an 11-member Sovereign Council (SC) will be formed, consisting of five civilians and five representatives of the military. The 11th member will be a civilian mutually agreed upon by the two sides. Under the agreement, a military representative will head the SC for the first 21 months. The plan proposes a 39-month transition leading to a civilian government. The SC will set up a legislative body.

Breakdown

Since the agreement, the military has been trying to change the terms of the pact in their favor. On July 15, the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) announced its withdrawal from the negotiating process, stating that it would not participate in the transitional government. The SCP also called for continued mass mobilizations against the regime.

At the meeting with the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF), the Transitional Military Council (TMC) refused to allow the immediate formation of the legislative council promised in the accord. The TMC also refused to approve the formation of a DFCF-led committee to investigate the Rapid Support Force militia’s violent slaughter of protesters.

During the meeting of the TMC, the military proposed to preserve the foreign-policy commitments made by the deposed al-Bashir government. This means Sudanese troops would be kept in Yemen. Withdrawal from Yemen has been one of the main demands of the popular movement. Proposals of the TMC were condemned by forces of the DFCF, which includes opposition parties and unions, and the Sudanese Call, an alliance that includes armed rebel groups.

On July 17, a section of the DFCF broke ranks and signed a deal with the military that postpones discussion and resolution of contentious issues until a constitutional agreement is in place. The National Umma Party, one of the main opposition parties, signed the July 17 agreement. The party is headed by Sadiq al-Mahdi, who was overthrown in the 1989 coup that brought al-Bashir to power.

This action was rejected by elements of the DFCF, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the SCP, and armed rebel groups. The Sudanese Journalists Network condemned the agreement stating that it “strengthens the power of the junta, that is made up of members of the security committee of the Al Bashir regime and that tries to usurp power by stealing the efforts, sweat and blood of the revolution.”

The pact allowed the TMC to appoint the Interior and Defense Ministers, leaving the repressive apparatus of the state in the hands of the regime. This was a violation of previous agreements between the opposition and the TMC. In another violation of the agreement, the TMC is now demanding that parties allied with the old regime be included in the new legislative council

Economic woes and repression persist

Inflation, unemployment, and water shortages continue to plague Sudanese workers. Port Sudan-Sinkat bus line drivers have struck to demand higher fares, pointing to increased cost of living, fuel prices, and insurance rate hikes.

RSF goons attacked curfew breakers in Port Sudan, beating people and shaving the hair off of a young woman who wasn’t wearing a head cover. Militia have also targeted members of the press. On July 19 and July 26, tens of thousands marched in Khartoum and other cities in defiance of the junta and demanding justice for the victims of the RSF militia. On July 19, security forces tried to disperse the demonstrators with tear gas. Demonstrators carried posters with pictures of those killed by the RSF and banners demanding justice for the victims.

Take forward the fight!

There is a real danger that the old regime will reassert its power through repression and the exploitation of  divisions in the opposition movement. As we wrote in earlier articles, bourgeois parties are not reliable allies in the struggle against the dictatorship. The working class and its allies need their own independent fighting instrument, fighting unions and a revolutionary workers party, to take forward the struggle.

One urgent task is to dismantle the power of the repressive apparatus. The RSF and the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) must be disbanded and the criminals in their ranks held to account for the atrocities they have committed. Sudanese troops must be withdrawn from Yemen and the military budget slashed to meet the needs of the Sudanese people.

Efforts to split the military and win rank-and-file soldiers to the revolution should be redoubled, and mass-based self-defense committees should be built to counter reactionary militias. Democratically run popular committees that answer to the people of Sudan are necessary. Ultimately, the success of the Sudanese revolution requires a fight for workers’ power and the overthrow of capitalism.