A citizens’ revolution wave is blowing across Africa. Citizens are rising up against despots and tyrants. This wave began in 2011 with the Arab Spring soon spread to other parts of Africa blows fast and furious.
Described as the ‘spider’ at the heart of Sudan’s web, Omar Al Bashir came to power in 1980 through a coup. He has survived for 30 years despite famines, wars, genocide charges that are up to date hanging over his head with two arrest warrants already issued over his role in the crimes against humanity committed in the Darfur region. On the 11th day April 2019, the curtains of the tyrant’s regime finally came down after months of street protest sparked by the inflation levels and other economic difficulties. The military takeover that relieved him of his duties, suspended the constitution and took him into house arrest was the fifth in the history of Sudan since its independence in 1956.
Tyrants across Africa have a tendency of making their downfall bed. They entrench ironfisted rule that spares not even the loyalists more so in the evening of their autocratic hay days. From Zimbabwe to Sudan. In the week leading to his downfall, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who history may not fondly remember orchestrated his downfall by firing his right hand stalwart Comrade Mnangawa, the current president. The army in an unprecedented move, swung into action to avert what would have been a clear ride into power of the disgraced Grace Mugabe, the then First lady and a week later they scaled their actions by forcing the four-decade African strong man out of office disgracefully. In Sudan, Bashir added salt onto injury when he doubled the price of bread onto the already sorry state of missing cash-flows from banks, fuel shortage et cetera. This set the stage for months-long protests that sprouted on 19th December 2018. He rose to power and played ‘a man of the people’ gimmicks that never lasted long. Born and bred from among the many dusty farming villages of the Nile, Bashir overthrew a civilian government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi in a bloodless coup.
But how did Mr. Al Bashir manage the wars and famine for over three decades? It is simple. According to Prof. Alex de Waal, he, an expert on Sudanese affairs says that Bashir religiously ensured his army chiefs were well taken care of. Bashir attended their funerals and weddings religiously. He had supplies to their families that included presents of sugar, tea and dried goods. It is these ‘tumbocrats’ (greedy people) who have now mutated as though the saviors of the people of Sudan. Time will tell. At this juncture I pose the question, could it be that the Sudanese people have jumped from the frying pan to direct fire?
To attempt and answer this question, I will contextualize a little. Mr. Bashir rose to power through a military coup in 1980 as supra detailed. He was a man of the people but with time became the proverbial wolf in the sheep’s wool. Mr. Robert Mugabe rose to power upon the British granting Zimbabwe independence in 1980 and for the first decade radically transformed the country. He won praises in and out of his country and continent. He won dividends but unlike any good dance who leaves the stage when at the peak, he overstayed. He architected Matabeleland Massacres in cohorts with the current President. He ran a country with a central bank but no currency. He ran a country with 90% unemployment among the youth. In November 2017, the very people that were loyal to him overthrew him, and his right hand man took his stead. Has the country fared better? The answer is yours but your guess is as good as mine.
The military established a council to run the country for 2 years. Two years? Yes, seems like a century, right? Reading the statement on a televised presser was Mr. Al Bashir’s Defence Minister! Laughable. In the meantime, a state of emergency has been declared for three months with a curfew of 10p.m. to 7 a.m. Essentially, the people are no longer allowed to assemble at the military headquarters and demand for any more. A state of emergency curtails several liberties and has the potential of greatly affecting the economy. Is the situation any better in Sudan now than it was as of 19th December, 2018? Only time will tell.
In the upshot, I congratulate the people of Sudan for their overwhelming resolve to liberate themselves, particularly I laud the women and young people that steered this ship. The time is ripe for other tyrants to gracefully exit stage.
Ongeri Wycliffe A.