Eyes are on Paris and what the 4-day meeting of the Sudan Call opposition groups ending today will produce. Though it is the second meeting for this opposition body in five months, but this one has special significance.
On one hand the meeting comes at a time an economic crises in the country have reached an unprecedented level of stagflation with no end in sight. And with question marks are being raised regarding the government’s ability to govern, the economic crisis is fast turning into a political one putting the regime to test.
However, that test is not restricted only to the government, but it entails the opposition groups as well, who are posing as alternative to the regime. And that is why eyes are on Paris and the expected outcome of the Sudan Call meeting and whether it will provide a credible alternative.
But before delving into its program, Sudan Call needs to sort out its internal differences on how to deal with the regime. As an umbrella grouping both armed and unarmed opposition bodies, it reiterated back in its March meeting its commitment to peaceful means to topple the regime. That declaration became subject of sharp controversy and criticism from its opponents that even those resorting to arms are deserting it and joining forces with political parties to help the regime in a soft landing exercise. Both the two Darfur rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement/Minni came out in pain explaining that Sudan Call is a front that brings various groups on a minimum level of understanding, but without restricting rebel groups from using other means, namely resorting to arms in their case when they chose to.
The issue of resorting to peaceful or violent means to face up to the regime received a new shot by the public call aired by a leading opposition figure, Yasir Arman of the SPLM-N. Arman wrote a piece into his Facebook account that was widely circulated where he called, in effect, for saying farewell to arms and concentrating more on civil struggle and tap the wide and deep abilities of people at large. It is not clear whether Arman was speaking for himself only or on behalf of his group, SPLM-N, which has been severely weakened following the schism that it underwent with Abdel Aziz Al-Hilu breakaway faction, who managed to attract the bulk of armed groups within the movement. And that is why many question the sincerity of Arman’s call for resorting to peaceful struggle.
In fact all opposition groups tried their luck with the gun at one point or another claiming that a regime that came on the barrel of gun can only be removed by force. But with inability to attract enough fighters and diminishing regional support for such venture most of these groups from the Umma party to the Democratic Unionists and even the Communist party and others dropped their guns and opted for peaceful struggle inside the country and grasping the opportunity provided by the CPA conclusion in 2005.
It remains to be seen what impact Arman’s call for dropping the gun will have on his fellows and whether it will help tipping the balance in favor of peaceful change in Sudan after reviving the AUHIP roadmap.
However, Sudan Call is not the only opposition group fighting the regime. Another, Sudan Consensus of left wing groups led by the Communist Party are adopting an uncompromising stand of no talks or negotiations with the regime, which should surrender power only. They have reiterated and conveyed that position during a meeting with European Union ambassadors in Khartoum recently.
This different approaches adopted by two main opposition groups weakens their case and should provide the government and its leading National Congress Party (NCP) with an opportunity to have the upper hand in the political maneuvering, but the government and its party seem to be bogged down facing mounting socio-economic crises with hardly any will or vision to play politics with a vision.
On the other hand the failure of the opposition to have even a unified position on the issue of how to deal with the regime and its government, let alone joining hands in toppling it, adds to the state of balance of weakness, unless the Paris meetings make a surprise paradigm shift that will impact significantly the situation back home.
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