Sudanese dictator and convicted genocidaire, Omar Al Bashir, has been deposed, and a military government headed by Ibn Auf is now ruling the North African country.
The fall of Bashir comes after months of protests, revolving around Sudan’s weak economy and the corruption in the Bashir regime. Protests began in December, with the slogans “Just fall – that is all” and “We are all Darfur” used heavily by protestors. Confrontations between Sudan’s powerful, pro-regime National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and protestors were often deadly, but protestors did not relent. By early April, protestors gathered around military headquarters in Sudan, demanding military action against the Bashir regime. On April 8, the military protected protestors from NISS forces, in a dramatic development which signalled the beginning of the end of the Bashir regime. It appears that the military has dissolved the government of Bashir – tanks were sighted in the streets of Khartoum, and at around 2PM local time in Sudan, the military officially declared that Bashir had been deposed.
The new government will be a “Transitional Council”, led by military officials, which will be in power for the next two years. A state of emergency has been declared for the next three months. Air travel has been shut down for 24 hours, and the Sudanese constitution has been nullified. The next few weeks in Sudan will be a delicate dance between the military and the people for power – military coups rarely end in a thriving democracy, and often lead to a military junta. In Sudan, a fragmented nation, a clash between the military, the people, and remnants of powerful Bashir-era security forces could brew.
Democracy may not be a viable option in Sudan. Democratic revolutions in the Arab world often end in civil war or chaos – see Libya, Egypt, and Syria as an example. The Sudanese population is too impoverished and diverse to support a democratic state – instead, the best form of governance would likely be a Rwanda or Singapore-esque, “philosopher king” or “benevolent dictator”. Paul Kagame’s Rwanda arose from similar circumstances to modern Sudan, though Sudan is much larger than Rwanda. Additionally, Sudan must purge all Islamist elements from its government. The scourge of backwards Islam has handicapped Sudan for decades – secular strength will bring Sudan into an era of prosperity and modernity.
Sudan faces other problems as well. The Sudanese countryside is extremely poor, and it faces high unemployment. Resentment from the countryside against the elite in Khartoum was certainly a driving factor in the Sudanese revolution, and the new government must prioritize the development of rural Sudan. Access to safe drinking water must be a priority for the new government, and improvement of road and rail will be needed to bolster the Sudanese economy. Corruption will also be a major problem – be it a military government, a democracy, or benevolent dictatorship.
The greatest benefit to Sudan and her people will be on the global stage. Al Bashir turned Sudan into an international pariah, as a warrant had been issued for Bashir’s arrest due to his role in the Darfur genocide. Sudan’s only ally had been China, and to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia and the GCC. With any luck, Sudan’s transitional council will work to eliminate the current sanctions on Sudan and open trade relations with the EU, the United States, and India. New trade deals and open relations with other countries will allow Sudan to diversify her economy – the country’s exports are currently based largely around oil and gold – and utilize her young, large population to create an industrial base.
The fall of Bashir could result in a new dawn for the Sudanese people. It also could result in instability and civil war – already, protestors have gathered against the new military regime. With new governments set to form in both Sudan and Algeria, a new Arab Spring – or Arab Winter – may be upon us.