Serhat Orakçı / World Bulletin
In the past weeks Sudan has been going through tough times. In the demolition of 15,000 homes, around 200,000 people have been left homeless. Most of the country has been affected by heavy rains. Many have been left stranded as the state struggles to reach them. While those wounds are still being banded, the state has recently announced the lifting of subsidies on fuel and gas. This does not just mean the increase in petrol prices, but also of food prices.
This decision has already stirred a rebellion by the Sudanese people. As protestors fill the streets, most of whom are youths, the protestors have begun rioting. Petrol and electricity stations have been attacked, and many lives lost. From the word go the police response has been harsh. According to official figures 30 people have been killed, while unconfirmed reports state more than 100 have died. Schools have been closed and the internet is from time to time cut off.
As much as the reason fuelling the Sudan rebellions appears to be the lifting of government subsidies on petrol, poverty is the real reason. Constant demonstrations like this since 2011 indicated the strengthening of opposition groups in the country.
Sudan has still not been able to pull itself together since the economic crisis of 2011. Having lost most of its income from petrol, the country has been unable to find a suitable alternative to the natural resource. The economic turbulence of the country as well as rising food prices has impoverished the nation. Sudan’s inability to live peacefully with its new neighbor South Sudan has increased military expenditure on both sides. Money that should be invested in education and healthcare is being spent on the military.
Instead of seeing an improvement in the Darfur crisis, the situation has been getting worse since 2003. Despite being left out of mainstream media for so long, the situation in Darfur concerns every human being on the planet. Due to tribal conflicts, 1.5 million people have been forced to flee from their homes. The decade long Darfur crisis loads even more weight onto Sudan’s shoulders. Providing for these refugees and the army has brought the Sudanese economy to a standstill.
Also the fast growing Sudanese population is another factor that should not be forgotten. Just like in the rest of Africa, the population is young and dynamic. Unemployment is widespread among university graduates. Although Sudan grew by 10% in 2006-2007, it was only able to grow 2.8% in 2012-2013. This growth is insufficient for a nation with such an increasing population, and the nation’s inability to present new opportunities will continue to further this joblessness.
Religion or ethnicity plays no role in this rebellion. The rebellion is completely politically and socio-economically based. The ruling regimes efforts to silence opposition reflect its inability to meet its people’s needs and manage the country effectively. Whether the regime likes it or not, the Sudanese people have run out of patience, and it is time for a change.
After coming to power in a coup in 1989, Omar al-Bashir’s National Congress Party is losing public support. In 2010 Omar al-Bashir won 60% of the votes in a general election. However, since then South Sudan has declared independence, the violence in Darfur is increasing, fighting has started in North Kurdufan and the state has been damaged by nationwide floods. These events have opened the way for Omar al-Bashir’s decline. However, should elections be held again, it is likely that he would win, albeit by just 50%. Consequently the ruling party has weakened and the opposition has been empowered.
At the core of Sudan’s problems is the 1993 embargo that has been enforced by the west because of their disapproval of the nation’s Islamist regime. The west supported if not paved the way for the independence of South Sudan. They also accused them of genocide in Darfur and supported opposition groups. However, this does not rule out the regimes poor management of the country, their poor relationship with its people and the suppression of opposing voices. To blame these problems completely on external factors would be an insult to the Sudanese people.
When taking a sample of the people who are on the streets of Sudan, one will find people from all walks of life. Just the atmosphere of the protests is enough to tell tales of poverty. It is a protest without signs and speakers. While some just protest about the hike of petrol prices, some want to remove the regime completely. Should the government simply retract its decision these protests would stop, but would remain ever ready to reignite with the smallest spark.Last Mod: 28 Eylül 2013, 16:06