The Oasis Reporters
June 5, 2019
The walls of the Sudanese people’s uprising that became the much talked about revolution starting from 22 year old Alaa Salah’s folk song which went viral, appears to be caving in. Just before the end of Ramadan, the Holy month of fasting and prayers, the Sudanese paramilitary forces better known as the Janjaweed, the notorious outfit behind the civil conflict in Darfur some years ago, seem to have rolled their tanks into the streets of the capital city, Khartoum and Omdurman and so far, about 30 persons have been killed on Monday. The two cities are eerily silent.
Heavily armed members of the Rapid Support Forces are said to be fanning out across the capital and the neighbouring city of Omdurman, clearing barricades and firing into the air.
The military has faced international condemnation for the deadly crackdown. This clearly shows that the pact with the protesters over a transition to civilian rule has abruptly come to an end. Violent suppression has taken over.
But how much of it would be tolerated by the international community, remains to be seen.
The two sides had initially agreed to a three-year transition, culminating in elections. On Monday, however, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) said polls would be held within nine months. There’s little way for the pro democrats to erect party structures and face well the established military party in elections in less than a year.
After 30 years in power, Mr Bashir was overthrown by the military in April, amid pressure from the protesters.
The demonstrators had been occupying the square in front of the military headquarters since April 6, five days before Mr Bashir was overthrown.
The Darfur conflict in western Sudan, which began in 2003 exposes the danger the Sudanese are in, for it was the paramilitary unit, Rapid Support Forces widely known as the Janjaweed that was notorious for the insurgency during the conflict that led to the widespread killings of black African Sudanese, many others being sold into sex slavery and also outright slavery as well as displacement of communities. Such that the United Nations had to intervene by sending in peace keepers and indicting the now overthrown leader, Hassan Omar Al-Bashir.
A BBC Analysis by Fergal Keane says that “the TMC has scrapped agreements reached with the opposition Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), saying this will speed up the transition to democratic elections. That plan is likely a fiction.
The military also enjoys another advantage: in an age of international division, the notion of an “international community” pressuring the regime is fantasy. Sudan’s crisis has exposed the reality of international politics: that force can have its way, without consequence, if the killers and torturers represent a valuable asset to other powers.
It is impossible to say whether the FFC can come back as a street-driven force. What will not change, in fact what has been deepened, is the alienation of people from their rulers.
The protesters had called for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr, marked on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, to be celebrated in the streets, as a gesture of defiance against the military.
On Tuesday, however, much of Khartoum seemed to be under lockdown. Video shot on mobile phones showed columns of troops advancing along the streets, removing barricades and firing into the air.
Flights into Khartoum have also been disrupted.
Streets are said to be deserted and
large numbers of heavily armed troops were also reported on the streets of Omdurman, Sudan’s second-largest city, just across the River Nile from Khartoum.
Earlier, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the TMC head, said on state television the council had decided to “stop negotiating” with the protesters and “cancel” all previous agreements, and that an election would be held in nine months.
The US, the UK and Norway expressed “serious concern” over the announcement, and called for “an agreed transfer of power to a civilian-led government”.
The security services moved on the main protest site early on Monday and, according to activists, forces also surrounded a hospital in Khartoum and opened fire at another.
In a statement read on national television, the military council said the operation had targeted “trouble makers and petty criminals” and that they were dedicated to protecting civilians.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which is spearheading the nationwide protests, responded by calling for a campaign of “sweeping civil disobedience to topple the treacherous and killer military council”.
The UN has urged the Sudanese authorities to facilitate an independent investigation and to hold those responsible accountable.
With a thin line between the oppressive Janjaweed and the military high command that has yet to transfer Omar Hassan al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court of Justice, chances of their listening to the United Nations remains remote.