Conflicts and corruption have been an integral part of African politics and human history for thousands of years. Although there have been significant struggles amongst individual and communities to uphold regional and international peace agreements, conflict and corruption still arise in parts of the African nations.
I will share my views on the root causes of conflict and civil uprising in Sudan, from my own experience of living there. I think, resources, corruption, tribalism and political influence are key themes of concern. Critically, I believe, there must be a focus on the misrepresentation of leadership in Sudan, the Transitional government and the warring parties. Due to the ongoing situation, many of us were forced to leave Sudan and claim asylum in Europe due to these issues. Despite this, many of us sustain a committed interest in the country’s situation. Conflict in Sudan has had a real impact on people’s lives (for example the death of the 16 years Sudanese boy who was washed up on a French beach after drowning as he tried to reach the UK). I will take into consideration potential long-lasting solutions, like the peace agreement between the Transitional government and rebel armed groups in South Sudan, following the arrest of Al-Bashir (charged for genocide and war crime) by the Sudanese army.
I observed first-hand that resources are unevenly distributed across the African continent and these inequalities are particularly prevalent in Sudan. For instance, segregation between people with/without access to profitable resources like oil and gold corresponds to long-term rifts along ethnic or linguistic lines. Such disputes are intensified over years of unresolved disagreements and tension.
This has led to the separation of Sudanese people into groups, such as the nascent state of South Sudan. Both, North-South have been experiencing ethnic cleansing due to the inherent racism within the National Congress Party (NCP); and the rebel groups. This has resulted in extreme violence and genocide in Darfur. Sadly, access to resources continues to be a bone of contentious among the factions and fuels hostilities in Sudan and leads to ongoing turbulence. The decision to get the ICC involved has been welcomed by the majority of Sudanese people, who long for justice.
Political influence and corruption
To put the genesis of Sudan’s problems into context, we must consider actions by power-seeking politicians which have resulted in chaos. The political power struggle, between Al-Bashir and the rebels continue to play a prevalent role in the unrest in Sudan. Their actions had a direct impact on our lives. Al-Bashir’s coup d’etat took place when he was head of military and resulted in informal leadership being won by the NCP in 1989. It is now recognised that he could face the death penalty after the mass grave linked to it was found.
After an internal party dispute within the NCP followed a deadly civil war and ongoing genocide in Darfur. Recent peaceful protests were aimed at establishing democratic rule with honourable elections, freedoms and good governance. Protesters were successful in overthrowing the internationally recognised autocratic NCP in April 2019. Bashir was removed from power and Sudanese protesters reject army takeover after the removal of president. The Sudanese protests were led primarily by women who were against the army’s decision to replace Al-Bashir with a military-led Transitional council. Having women in leadership roles has only been possible since the fall of Al-Bashir, and this should be regarded as a success. Promoted by the protests, the Head of Sudan’s military council stepped down just one day after Bashir toppled.
I think, nothing has changed for the better in Sudan over the years, and many things are worse than ever. The whole country is now suffering from rising inflation rate leading to a deep economic recession and hunger. The country is also suffering from the consequences of climate change including the damage caused by flooding.
Amidst all of this, Sudan has paid the value of $335 million to American victims of the1998 terror attack on two US embassies by al-Qaida in order to be removed from a list of states that patronage terrorism. However, having been forced to illegally trade natural resources to one of the wealthiest countries in order to make the payment, and repeatedly failing to improve living conditions for the people of Sudan, has caused outrage in the heart-stricken east African country. Also pressed to improve ties between Sudan and Israel, discussions have taken place to lift sanctions with the Transitional government who have worked hard to put Sudan into international arenas and form a normalisation with Israel. This has also removed Sudan from a blacklist which could contribute to sustainable development and a more prosperous future for the country. However, considering Israel’s history of failure to negotiate peace with Palestine, and the ongoing political corruption within Israel and the USA – one cannot trust the sincerity of the motivations behind this agreement. It seems this is yet another opportunity for these wealthy superpowers to exploit a poor country, and the Sudanese Transitional government is supporting it.
Historical peace agreement
Despite promises of an agreement between the Transitional government and rebel groups , and efforts to prevent further difficulties such as settlements to bring the warring parties together in South Sudan– progress remains slow. As the Prime Minister Hamdok said:(this is Sudanese peace, made with our own hands and by our own efforts, this is not a paper agreement, but is a living organism that needs care, attention and political will from all of us. It is a long road ahead and formidable challenges remain. However there remains hope that Sudan can turn the page on decades of war which has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced).
In conclusion, I fear that addressing the overarching systemic themes of concern will take many years due to the lack of institutionalization of democracy, accountability and freedoms. I suggest the enlightenment of peace, equality, and the rule of law and democracy as a starting point for finding any long-lasting solution. Human rights and equality are required before any society can be called “democratic”. Sudan’s revolutionaries pin hopes on a new PM. This is the chance to recognise the time-tested backbones of a representative government. For now, there are ongoing talks and an increased opposition by the majority of people from warring parties. I believe, sustainable solutions, like peace agreement between the Transitional government and warring parties in South Sudan- has potential to start the process of ending conflict. However, it is necessary for the (TG) to make complete peace agreements with all the rebel groups (e.g. SLM and SPLM-N), rather than repeating the notions of NCP and making agreements with only a couple of warring parties (i.e. SLM and JEM). I believe a very significant role is played by the Transitional Government, particularly when negotiating with territorial organisations such as the African Union and East African states. Without any linear interest in Sudan’s resources, their views cannot be ignored. Such territories within the region can clearly have an unbiased way of reconciliation and are likely to obtain the trust from the warring parties. Although there is no single solution to these issues in Sudan, I hope that an aggregate of sound decision-making with the primary aim of democratic rule, could pave the way for governance in Sudan which will have a positive impact on the lives of its people.