The June 30 mass demonstration calling for handing over power to a civilian-led government was significant in many aspects to the extent that it was called a game changer.
It was the first mass demonstration that covered 13 major cities throughout Sudan where hundreds of thousands joined despite the internet blackout that was the main tool used to communicate between the leadership of the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) and the people. Despite the main understanding that social media has become an integral part of the Arab Spring uprisings, but Sudan’s experience proved that even in the absence of social media, people can communicate and demonstrate.
The event also coincided with the 30th anniversary of the coup that brought former President Omar Al-Bashir and the Islamists to power and it was the first major gathering following the bloody break of the sit-in 27 days earlier that claimed the lives of more than 100 victims.
The message was loud and clear people don’t want to see the military in the driver’s seat and are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that does not happen. And they are resorting to what they have in hand. Their peaceful mass gatherings and demonstrations.
They have been doing that time and again relentlessly. When wild bullets claimed the lives of five students in El-Obeid last week that did not deter hundreds of thousands to march again last Thursday calling for justice and to lose another four while doing that.
It is this resilience that has kept the revolution going on for more than three months after Al-Bashir was toppled and is inching towards satisfying the main call for a civilian-led government.
It was only last week and for the first time that the Transitional Military Council (TMC) moved in seriously and apprehended some of those seen culprits and involved in the killing of students in El-Obied and Omdurman.
In fact, the TMC has no option but to act as it has been cornered by the FFC, who some of its followers were able to provide hard evidence of those involved in the shooting and killings in El-Obied. Thanks to the smart cell phone that were able to record in real time what actually happened. At stake now is the TMC’s claim that its presence is important to guarantee security. Failing to do that or at least be seen doing that will undermine its claim.
The TMC went as far as sacking seven of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) who were responsible of the killings and taking the senior officials to task for their professional failure in handling the situation. Two more of RSF are apprehended also in Omdurman following the death of four in Thursday’s mass demonstration.
Yet the main factor here is that demonstrators are now having a tool in their own hands that can provide them with some security: their smart phones that can help them record and document any violation and provide a hard evidence on the culprits. Otherwise the story goes after anonymous or masked individuals that were hard to recognize. No more. Thanks to the communication revolution that has been engulfing the country for years.
The joint meeting between both the TMC and FFC that was concluded in the early hours of Friday made a remarkable breakthrough notably in terms of steps taken to apprehend culprits, which paved the way for concluding the political and constitutional declarations later. The main issue is how the new found positive engagement can develop into a solid confidence. After all both the TMC and FFC are obliged to get into a partnership during the interim period. The question is whether they will be an odd couple or get into a fruitful partnership.
The country has a previous experience of a rocky partnership during the 6-year interim period between the National Congress and the SPLM. Since the self-determination option was on the table, SPLM did not mind taking contested issues to the brink. Eventually that period ended in the separation of South Sudan into an independent state.
This time there is no margin and no other option to resort to, which means both the TMC and FFC are doomed to work together and they need to develop a new spirit and turn this compulsory partnership because of the balance of power into something fruitful, sustainable and able to usher the country into a new era.
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