Yasir Saeed Arman, the former SPLM candidate for the Presidency in limbo, reacted to the NCP organised consultation meeting on the referendum which started last Thursday with a sentence much telling of the political stakes today: “we will not eat food which we have not participated in preparing”. Well contrary to proclamation the organisation to which Arman belongs is preparing and eating, may be not on this particular plate, but on all accounts when it comes to the national cake. As such Arman is misled or misleading, however in admission cognisant of the algorithm in action: cuts and shares.
Knowing and implicitly involved in curtailing Sudanese politics to a plate of two the SPLM boycotted the meeting as did other major political forces, however the SPLM’s boycott does not belong in the same category since it is persistently involved in referendum talks with the NCP, beyond being a partner in the national government and sole controller of Southern Sudan.
The political parties, soaked in their own tears, decided to escape the political arena unable to de-learn old habits and acquire new ones compatible with the current balance of power. Fantasising about own cuts and shares the parties simply cannot stomach the notion that their road back to hegemony is currently blocked. To survive and re-emerge, let alone gain hegemony, the parties must learn to see beyond their immediate desires. This implies an examination of the Sudanese communities, their internal stratification, and their historical trajectory, and a location of political choices within this context. The parties, investing in current grievance, have only the catch-all ‘anti-NCP’ stance to declare, but fail to provide an imagination of a future beyond NCP gates. The last such attempt was probably the Asmara declaration of 1995. However, whatever the opposition had then envisioned, mostly of a ‘transitional’ nature, has become CPA practice devoid of the transformative potential. In essence, the NCP has already occupied the political space carved in principle in the Asmara Declaration, foiled though in the premise of ‘democratic transformation’.
Submitting without hesitance to extraversion the main bargain of opposition to the NCP has long been international influences and pressures, sanctions and the like. Over time, the NCP has outplayed the opposition in its own game, not necessarily in the human rights market but via the much more significant international monetary organisations, and definitely riding the leverage of oil rents and Chinese soft power. Despite appearances the NCP is well cushioned in the international game, blessed be the ‘war on terror’, and has long outwitted the opposition in subservience to foreign interests.
The space ignored by NCP and its adversaries is essentially domestic. With that in mind it might do the opposition more good to rest from ‘preparing food’, i.e. talk less to Gration, attend less meetings with the Egyptians, and for the sake of it meet the nas (people).