Some Woldiya University Students Arrested


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Some Woldiya University Students Arrested First, distrusts and divisions within the military complex helped pave the way for a relatively frictionless toppling of al-Bashir. We should not underestimate the fact that the military complex has never been enjoying internal cohesion and unity for a long time. There have been different convictions, affiliations, or proclivities within the military-which, even as of now, will be its point of weakness in sustaining the crackdown on protestors and TMC’s (Transitional Military Council) transitional rule. Although not necessarily overt enough, we know that there are internal frictions simmering beneath the TMC’s military complex between young officers who have been relatively sympathetic to protestors and senior leaders who have been, in many ways, benefiting from al-Bashir’s almost three decades old rule. We also know that there are groups, which have been very much closer to al-Bashir’s rule, such as the Rapid Support Force (RSF) and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). However, given the preferential treatment of these forces over and above the regular Sudanese army, there is a growing fear that a group of soldiers may come out from this block and turn the already stalled transition in Sudan into a never-ending bloody civil war. In other words, the ousting of al-Bashir must have been facilitated by these fertile grounds in Sudan’s military complex and security apparatus. Second, days before the ousting of Al-Bashir, the Sudanese people staging a sit-in outside army headquarters were faced with heavy gunfire and attacks. Despite TMC’s claim, the same was recycled throughout May as well, that it was carried out by some “infiltrators”, we know that it was actually the starting point of RSF’s actual violent intervention under the leadership of Dagalo (Hemeti). At this point, rather than working with the militia and closely affiliated security forces, police forces refused to attack protestors. In fact, we know that they had issued a communique making it clear that they will never attack protestors. This, thus, adds to the above internal division in the security and military complex in Sudan, effectively making the protest more meaningful and successful at ousting al-Bashir. Misunderstanding democracy in Underdeveloped Countries In many underdeveloped or developing countries in Africa, Asia, or South America, there has always been a problem of disentangling the state or the government from the military, party politics, and “state” ideology. In these countries, Sudan included, the state has often been part and parcel of the military and security complex, party politics, and ideology. In other words, the state has an ideology, runs party politics, and effectively uses the security apparatus as its own recruitment ground and implements its aspirations. In such conditions, individuals, civil societies, NGOs, political parties, and other institutions are not treated like citizens and members of the wider society and nation. Rather, it makes some of them as friends and some others as enemies of the state (the ruling party, its ideology, military, etc). In countries like Sudan where the military has been the recruiting ground for state governance for many years and decades, the problem even becomes more complex as the marriage between the above institutions has been solidified through successive regimes and the extension and devolution of closely affiliated actors and institutions. This may include the media, paramilitaries, training facilities, international relations with like-minded political actors, and so forth. In short, this slowly evolving and snowballing condition of the state-party-ideology-military (synchronization) effectively turned it into a powerful stumbling block in the way of democracy. This is what happened in Sudan. This also works to explain the challenges of democracy in other countries like Russia and China. Now, how can we relate this to the current political deadlock in Sudan? If what has just been mentioned makes any sense, the response will be very much obvious. For better or worse, to totally disengage the military from the body politic of Sudan through weeks or months-long protest is beyond unrealistic. Ideally, this should happen slowly through a long period of time, either through a deliberate process of facilitating its [marriage] demise or allow it to die its natural death, as the case in many countries with a relatively mature democracy. Now, despite being part of the process of ousting al-Bashir, even at the eleventh hour, the totally exclusionist demands of the opposition from the outset must have been tacitly unacceptable to the military. For this, we know that the discourse and rhetoric of the military fundamentally shifted from its apologetic and diplomatic stance in the first few weeks of ousting al-Bashir to a rejectionist position and harsh measures since the beginning of June. Understandably, although the transfer of power to a civilian rule seems commendable and desirable, its feasibility does not appear to have been critically well thought out. The disunity and disorganization of the opposition claiming to represent civilians hiding behind, in some cases, mutually exclusive ideologies and contradictions, was sending the message that it was not really ready to take up such serious responsibility. Considering the contradictory claims and positions of the communist, nationalist, conservatives to “Islamists”, it was very clear to any outsider reader of Sudan’s current political fiasco that something was eventually to happen. For instance, at the end of May, one of the strongest oppositions, Umma Party under the leadership of Sadek al-Mahdi, rejected the call for a two-day general strike which was spearheaded by the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA). Apart from internal weaknesses, the military also worked hard to make sure that a strong unified opposition is not a reality. We know that the TMC attempted to create discursive fissures between “pro-Sudan” and Islamist (“Islamic”) groups and anti-Sudan, “infiltrators”, and foreign-funded political entrepreneurs. Furthermore, on May 31, 2019, a rally was organized to support the TMC. Hundreds of conservative Sudanese rallied in the capital Khartoum, chanting that they “support the military” and that “freedom, peace, justice, Shari’a is the choice of the people”. On the other end of the spectrum, the TMC, after attacking the sit-in protestors in Khartoum, announced for a general election to be held within nine months. Apart from nulling the recently negotiated three years transition period, it went on to accuse the opposition of conspiring to “exclude the other political and military forces” and “clone another totalitarian regime” drawn from al-Bashir’s affiliates. Except perhaps for the former, the later ludicrous claim was basically what the TMC itself was accused of in the first place. Understandably, it also points to the fact that there have always been fissures within the military establishment itself as noted above.


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