In his second public televised address to the nation Prime Minister Dr. Abdalla Hamdok finally took the step that he should have taken since he assumed office seven months ago: to look and focus his attention inside, call for self-dependence and urge the Sudanese people inside and outside the country to lend their support for a national, domestic program to face up to multiple challenges facing the country starting with the Coronavirus.
This is a change of course and is highly welcomed. Whether that change is a direct result of the Corona virus or not could be a subject for some debate, but the fact it has been long overdue. The elite who have been ruling the country for more than six decades have developed the habit of looking for the outside world for help and solutions, even talks to settle the thorny issues of civil wars that have characterized the country’s history opted usually for a foreign venue to host them.
The Coronavirus has brought the whole world to standstill and every country around the globe is currently more concerned with its own worries and is exploring ways to find local solutions. That is why it is no surprise that one possible casualty will be the much-anticipated and frequently delayed the donors’ conference, which is supposed to extend a helping hand to the country in its moment of need.
The fact that Sudan is not prepared to face up to the Corona challenge is not big news itself. No country in the world seems to be prepared for that, but the difference is that others have the ability to pool their resources and over spend. Sudan has no option but to try its luck.
The popular campaign launched by Hamdok calling for donation is being portrayed as the first step in long term march to build the country. The campaign is betting on the popular support that was instrumental in ousting the defunct Ingaz regime. This is a chance to turn that revolutionary force into something positive towards socio-economic development to build the country.
However, for such venture to succeed it needs to institutionalize and organize the spontaneous reaction into implementable and sustainable programs. The two suitable candidates to shoulder this responsibility are the resistance committees and trade unions as both have the ability to connect with grassroots in both housing and work areas. It is these groups who fuelled the popular uprising, kept their organization intact till the overthrow of the previous regime.
But these organizations have to have a recognized legitimacy and a clear mandate. It is high time for these organizations to be elected and move the draft laws that have been stalled after subjecting them for more debate and settle on an agreed upon version.
Such exercise is not only required to clarify the way they operate, but it is the first step in the democratic transformation, which is better learnt through exercise and experience. Such step at the grass roots will provide a good lesson for the general elections towards the end of the transitional period. Moreover, with resistance committees and trade unions playing a significant role in political change they provide the opportunity for new leaders to emerge out of communal activities.
This attitude of putting more emphasis on what could be done domestically should be the norm that dictates the whole political game. High on the list is to bring the peace talks inside the country. In the post-Ingaz era where mutineers are comrades in arms, those in prison were freed and those sentenced have their sentences dropped there is no excuse whatsoever to have these talks outside the country. It is part of the mentality that has dominated the scene for long and was always looking for the outside world for help to provide solutions.
Intentionally or not the Coronavirus is providing Sudan with an opportunity that came disguised in a form of a disaster. Still the country is very fragile in facing up to the Corona challenge, but that is a challenge faced by countries all over the world rich and poor and Sudan will not be an exception. The way each country responds to that challenge will paint its path to the future. After all the world after the Corona is set to be a completely different one from that before COVID-19.
It is time to book for the future.
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