With rumours that police are siding with protesters in Sudan, anxiety is bubbling over the prospect of revolution.
With rumours that police are siding with protesters against the Sudanese government’s plans for austerity, anxiety is bubbling in Sudan over the prospect of revolution.
The Sudanese government announced new austerity measures last week in response to the economic fallout resulting from Southern Sudan’s move to independence last July.
Protesters have lined the streets since the plans were announced, as taxes on consumer goods and fuel have rocketed and many civil servant roles have been cut.
Massive protests are planned today and tomorrow in the capital Khartoum to coincide with the 23rd anniversary of Omar al-Bashir’s military coup that ousted the former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.
It has been reported that internet and communications companies have shut down their services to hamper protester efforts to communicate and mobilise.
Similar protests took place in Sudan last year, inspired by the Arab Spring protests taking place in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. So what is different this time round to suggest revolution?
Eric Reeve, writing for the Sudan Tribune, says that the opportunity could be now as the government is weaker than it was last year:
There is a growing sense of the regime’s vulnerability—a belief that after 23 years of National Islamist Front/National Congress Party tyranny, the regime’s leadership cannot react to the current economic crisis except with the most savage methods of repression. This in turn will only alienate more of the civilian population. What is certain is that insofar as this is a rebellion sparked most immediately by rapidly rising consumer prices, the regime is out of options.
At the same time, long pent-up political grievances on the part of the various marginalized peoples of Sudan have created a super-charged environment for the uprising. Bitter discontent and anger runs deep in the eastern states (Red Sea, Kassala, Gedaref).
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The army and security services take up approximately half the [government’s] budget (perhaps more); they are now being paid with an inflated currency that is increasingly worthless; large-scale desertions and defections will soon occur. A huge question looming over the current crisis is what position the army will take as protests grow.
If the NIF/NCP loses the unified support of the army, or even the mid-level officer corps, its days are numbered.
President Omar al-Bashir has shrugged off the possibility of a revolution however, addressing a group of students last weekend:
“The people who burn the tyres are small in number and they are pushing for a fight. They said these economic measures would be a chance for an Arab Spring in Sudan. But the Arab Spring in Sudan happened many times already.”
Is this overconfidence the president? Should we be keeping an eye on Sudan?
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