16-October-2019
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Accounts Of A Long Day

Accounts Of A Long Day

Hashim al-Atta, the leader of 1971 coup against Nimiery

By: Alsir Sidahmed

 

It is July again. An aborted coup attempt, led by a general called Hashim, looks like a new version of a similar event that took place 48 years ago, with slight difference. The first Hashim was able to hold on to power for three days, while the second Hashim have not have even the chance to set his coup into a motion.

While the first was used to strike a devastating blow against the Communist Party, the new one seems to be pointing its accusations into the opposite direction: the Islamists, who have been in absolute power for the past three decades.

However, despite the coincidence of having yet another coup attempt at the time the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) are concluding their talks in Addis Ababa with the rebel movements and the following steps targeting Islamists from the deposed regime, yet there are two issues that are underlying the dramatic events surrounding the latest coup attempt.

The first relates to the role of the military in the whole general political scene and specifically the growing role of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), while the other issue is the mass call for a civilian rule in the country given their dismal record of 52 years out of the country’s 63 years as an independent state that brought it to the brink of collapse.

But a closer look reveals that the civilian politicians are equally, if not more, responsible from the presence of the military into the political scene.

The first coup of General Ibrahim Abboud in 1958 was in fact a direct order from the then the prime minister and minister of defense Abdalla Khalil, who was at the same time the secretary-general of the Umma Party.

The second successful coup of Jafaar Nimery in 1969 was inspired by a coalition of leftists comprising Nasserites and communists, while the third coup of the Islamists that was led by Omar Al-Bashir in 1989 was planned and executed by the National Islamic Front.

It is interesting to observe that in the three cases, the military who started as a front or a pawn for a political force took things later into their own hands and exercised their full authority on power starting with cracking down on those who ushered them into power. Abboud sent Khalil to prison, as did Al-Bashir with Hasan Al-Turabi, the ideologue and the mastermind behind the Ingaz coup. The communists were less fortunate as Nimiery sent their leaders to the guillotine.

These bitter experiences of resorting to arms did not deter the political parties from trying again and again. The Umma Party and the Islamists were the driving force behind the 1972 attempt to take over the seat of government in Khartoum with Libyan backing, but the attempt was repulsed.

To stand up to the Ingaz regime all political forces adopted the military struggle as a mean to fight the regime and they were forced, in effect, to drop that option because they did not find enough volunteers to carry arms.

So clearly there will always be a role for the army and an armed body carrying guns in the political scene, unless the political parties commit themselves in practise, and not only in theory, to peaceful means of practising politics. Moreover, be patient and resort to whatever peaceful means available to challenge injustice.

The main lesson drawn from the current uprising that have toppled Al-Bashir is its commitment to peaceful means be it anti-demonstrations, strikes and civil disobedience. However, these means will be enough in themselves in deterring any enthusiastic officer encouraged by a political force to try to make a short cut to power.

Luckily enough the military is becoming an obsolete phenomenon shunned regionally and internationally, but the real deterrence is to have a strong civil society organizations able to mobilize the people against any potential military take-over.

And this should be a top priority for the yet to be formed transitional government on creating a conducive environment for such civil society organizations to mushroom and flourish. Another important step awaits the political parties to take, that is to put their own house in order. Hopefully the winds of change led by youth and women in the current uprising blows through the corridors of these parties.

 

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Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...

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