Gradually the Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the civil group Freedom and Change Forces (FCF) are building bloc by bloc a consensus on post-deposed Omar Al-Bashir era that will hopefully usher the country into a sustainable democratic transformation, but such endeavor is threatened by lack of clarity, slow movement, disagreement on a number of sticking issues and a growing possibility of foreign intervention.
On the top of the disputed issues is the role of the TMC in addition to the length of the interim period. FCF, an umbrella for opposition parties and the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) that spearheaded the demonstrations have called for full civilian administration and an interim period for four years, while TMC went as far as having a mixed supreme body that retains power for two years before calling for general elections.
Sudan has two past experiences well before the Arab Spring. It succeeded in toppling the first military regime in 1964 and the second in 1985. In both cases a one year interim period was agreed upon, general elections were held, four years later and before the parliamentary session concludes its term a new military takes over.
It is not only the past experience that should be taken into consideration, but the realities created by the Ingaz regime over thirty year era ought to be addressed seriously.
Unlike the previous two military regimes, Al-Bashir, with his political Islamic ideological tenets, came with the intention of writing the last chapter in the country’s history. To do that it started the biggest sacking and lay-offs in the history of Sudan for all non-members and sympathizers in the army, security, police and civil service that amounted to tens of thousands over the years.
Not only that, but it created its parallel organizations in what is known as gray companies and organizations in various areas of economy, security to ensure its grip on power.
A shorter interim period means getting embroiled into procedural issues related to voting without making the necessary ploughing to prepare the environment for a healthy democratic exercise. Carrying elections with a government apparatus dominated by Al-Bashir and his defunct the National Congress Party means giving them legitimacy after being toppled.
Moreover, there are serious issues that need to be addressed first. High on them is pushing for peace in Darfur, the Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas that have been in a state of war over the years.
Making such settlement is a prerequisite to get internally displaced people back to their homes and open the way for a credible census that will be the foundation for a new socio-economic and political set up.
On the other hand there is enough justification for reservation on an extended interim period with no legal or constitutional mandate. After all dismantling the Ingaz regime and its institution, revitalizing economy and getting into democratic transformation is a long term process.
Whatever time span agreed upon on the interim period it will not be enough to clear the mess created by three decades of Al-Bashir rule, but hopefully it will lay the foundation for a steady process guided by a national consensus.
More important is to recognize the fact that the removal of the Ingaz regime was in the end a product of a partnership between the military and the civilians. It was the four months continuous demonstrations and sit-ins before the army headquarter that pushed the military to decide on toppling Al-Bashir. If it was not for the incessant anti-demonstrations, the military would not have moved, but if it is not for the military, demonstrations alone would not have succeeded in its push for regime change.
And that is where there is a need to continue this partnership, which should be a first step for building a national consensus that needs to go step further to include Islamists as a political movement minus those incriminated or indicted legally. As a political force it should get its verdict from the ballot box. Yet some political accommodation is needed for the sake of strengthening the domestic front.
On the other hand the international community can help by withholding its pressure for a shorter interim period, start a process to remove Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism and look into ways to relieve the country’s mammoth debts.
But all that depends on getting priorities right and have a government in place to tackle these issues.
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