بسْم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Alimam Alsadig Almahdi presentation at RUSI
Prospects for Peace, Development, Security,Democratization, and Stability in Sudan
Honorable ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you on the RUSI platform on this important subject.
The five subtitles are interconnected: without Peace there will be no Security, without Security there will be no Development, without Development there will be no Stability. Participatory Democracy guarantees the legitimacy of governance.
My Thesis is that: in three decades the present Regime has affected all five prospects negatively, and that with present indications, the prospects are a free fall towards a doomsday scenario. That the country is blessed with certain potential which could realize these prospects in a future system.
In the following eight points I outline my argument:
First: The present Regime was established by military coup D’etat. A Regime established by force requires force to protect it. Towards that end it will spend the highest percentage of the social surplus on political patronage, media coverage, and military and security force to crush descent. When the coup took place, there was a successful Peace process scheduled to lead a National Constitutional Conference on 18th September 1989. They scrubbed it, and sought to crush the SPLM/A by military force. By pursuing a top heavy policy of Islamicist Arabist Ideology they helped unite All Southern Sudanese opinion in the pursuit of self- determination and enhanced external support for the resistance movement. The late Dr. John Garang told me that, that the policy enhanced the internal, and external support of our cause to the highest degree. The military government campaign failed. Through IGAD, and external intervention, the so called CPA was signed in 2005. Our assessment at the time was that it was a roadmap towards future armed conflict and towards Southern Sudan secession. We published the document detailing that reading in May 2005. It was the fact that important Protocols of the Agreement were not implemented leading to the renewed armed conflicts in the two regions of Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile in 2011.
The population in Northern Sudan is ethnically diverse. There was tension between two ethnic identities, particularly Darfur over natural resources. By ideology the Regime favored the Arab tribes. The Africanist ethnicity, in reaction, formed armed resistance movements which since 2002 and after launched civil war fronts. The result was multiple civil war conflicts in the country.
The Regime’s partisan monopoly of power galvanized the deprived political opinion against it. The scene was set for a broad front of civil and armed opposition to the Regime. The Regime in 2014 engaged in a window dressing dialogue which ended in October 2016. We published our assessment of that exercise later in that year. It failed to address the causes of opposition. Actual armed conflicts are now at a low level, but the potential for renewed armed encounters remains. In 2008,the American RAND corporation published a study of 684 armed political conflicts in the world. It demonstrated that they could not be settled by military force but by political agreements. When the IRA signed a peace Agreement its troops numbered 250.
In Sudan, the political opposition, and the potential for armed conflict remain forcing the government to continue with the oversized political, military, and security expenditure.
Second: The country’s economy is in free fall with the negative indications. The latest figures from 2018 budget show a 55 billion pounds deficit in the budget. The figure for the external imbalance is 6 billion dollars. The Regime resorted to borrowing, and so impoverishing the banking system, and so causing inflation.
The volume of money which was 13 billion pounds in 1990, is now 220 trillion pounds. It uses this worthless Currency to buy Dollars in the free market further devaluing the Currency. The price of the dollar jumped so that it is now 50000 pounds per dollar, compared to 12 pounds per dollar in 1989.
Accompanying indications are daunting: Inflation is at a record high, urban poverty at 80%, rural poverty at 90%, unemployment rate at 45%, among graduates it’s double that figure. Therefore no wonder, Sudan counted among the 10 failed States. As to be expected in unaccountable governance, corruption is rampant. The Sudan is 175 among 180 countries in the Transparency Index of 2018. While the debt of Sudan is 176.5% as percentage of GDP, second only to Greece (191.3%).
Even the intellectuals who initially supported the Regime are now to a man and woman declared opponents of the failed experience. The official political party, and the so called Islamic Movement have been reduced to no more than PR advocates. Without a credible ideology, without a program, and without a potential for change, the Regime continues to insist upon business as usual. Backing the same leader for a 6th renewal period for two reasons; first because any alternatives have been removed, and second because the single leader seeks protection from the ICC indictment by the official status. This predicament in which the imperatives for Change are so visible, while the subjective interest of the leadership are geared to No Change creates a vacuum which could lead to any number of unpredictable explosions. The lack of any meaningful purpose, but subjective satisfaction, has produced a mushroom growth of “power centers” which may be tempted to grab power. The pervasive Islamic hollow sloganeering would encourage Islamicist extremists to step in.
The continuation of the present setup without any reform potential, and the possible adventurous grabbing of power constitute what I call “the Doomsday Scenario” in the Sudan. The besieged leadership has resorted to ultimately dangerous internal and external devices to calm its festering fears.
Third: On the other hand, the Sudanese body politic is blessed with certain attributes which are consistent with participatory governance:
(A) Many countries in the region have been part of a heavy Centered Khalifate. In Sudan Islamization resulted from a peaceful movement through society. This down upwards process empowers society.
(B) Many countries in the region have never experienced genuine pluralistic governance. Sudan experienced such governance with complete guarantee of basic freedoms. Such a political climate encouraged the development of free political affiliations which no despotic policies succeeded to erase.
(C) Although Ali Mazrui described Sudan as a society of “Multiple Margins”, that very condition has helped, though the country’s political experiences, to enhance greater awareness of the importance of a more mature attitude to the problems of Religion and the State, and the greater realization of the imperatives and balances to deal with the conditions of diversity. The multiple margins have become a source of multiple potential.
(D) In many countries the armed forces have come to constitute a political party in waiting. The Regime’s infiltration of the armed forces have created conditions for reconstructed armed forces harmonious with popular sovereignty.
(E) The multiple civil conflicts have resulted in a greater realization of the causes of conflict and the demands of Comprehensive and Just Peace.
Fourth: Economic development is fueled, and limited, by four major factors. They are: Natural resources, Labor, Capital, and Technology. Sudan is blessed with ample natural resources. We have a relatively young population capable of being trained for capacity building. Capital and technology, in the right circumstances, and with determined political will, will be provided.
One of the lessons of our experience is that; political democracy should be buttressed by social democracy to redress social and regional imbalances. Opinion among our economists has realized the economic predicament of the country, and there is consensus about the imperatives of development with Social Justice. Their input constitutes the alternative political programs for development.
Fifth: Politically, we have formed a broadly based front which has adopted the policies necessary for the realization of the desired prospects. This front constitutes coalition between center and margins, between the different ethnicities, and constitutes the intellectual and social memory of the country’s political experience. This front is inclusive and continues to expand. It advocates a Charter for Nation Building under conditions of Comprehensive and Just Peace, Democratization with the necessary balances. It includes: Political Parties, Civil Society Organizations, the victims of injustices, and armed political movements. We All subscribe to this Nation Building Charter, and pursue it’s implementation by non-violent means.
This purposeful, peaceful program will protect the country from the Doomsday Scenario, and realizes the five legitimate aspirations of the people of Sudan. It may function as an example for our troubled region.
Sixth: To a man and a woman, the thinkers, intellectuals, poets, artists, abhor the present current despotic pattern of governance in the region.
The legitimacy deficit, the social injustices, the subordination to external manipulation, all these factors fuel extremism and the tendency to seek a better future by immigration.
There are numerous traditional religious texts taken out of context to legitimize extremism and violence. I published a book in 1989 after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In that book I argued that the East- West polarity could be replaced by a North- South polarity, and non-State actors from the Southern Hemisphere would engage in what I called “Weapons of Mass Obstruction”. Which include among other things: Terrorism and irregular immigration. Such tendencies will be fueled by civil conflicts, failed states, poverty, social injustices, and the negative aspects of globalization. It is in the vital interest of the international community to support the desired prospects by all means.
Seventh: As far as the Sudan is concerned we have suggested that the international community which already show interest in Sudanese affairs to take a step further and convene an International Conference to support Peace Making, and Democratization in Sudan. It is not a matter of engaging in Regime Change. This is the duty of the country’s political movement, but they could coordinate their efforts to address the following three requirements:
Support the peace and democratization process.
Reject impunity and take a principled attitude to UNSCR 1593 (March 2005), and ICC indictments.
Link benefits such as the program of HIPCS to positive steps towards Peace and Democratization.
Eighth: However, it is necessary that the International Community realize that the relations between the developed world and others requires more than Building Walls, and other security measures. Such policies address the manifestations and not the causes and the roots of different factors. It is necessary to convene an International Conference which addresses Security in wider terms than policing. However; this is wider than my presentation. It is specially necessary, in a world which being forced by chaotic tendencies.
That chaos will be music to the ears of irresponsible non- state actors. It becomes a pattern of Dark Symbiosis. Therefor, the Doomsday scenario is, unfortunately, not a Sudanese monopoly.
Thank you for listening