Saturday, 5 January 2019

Sudan: "Bashir is finished"

A short interview with the German der Spiegel. English translation below. Thanks goes to Raniah Salloum @Ranyah

Since 1989, Sudan has been governed by Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide. Since two weeks there have been protests against him. Several dozens have been killed according to human rights activists. Sudan-expert Magdi El Gizouli from the Rift Valley Institute explains why it's getting difficult for Bashir.

Spiegel: How did the protests begin?
El Gizouli: They started in Atbara, a sleepy town of working class heritage in the Northeast. There, overnight, bread prices tripled. The background is the severe economic crisis since the secession of oil-rich South Sudan in 2011. In response, the government imposed a severe austerity regime with subsidy cuts. This is compounded by stifling political repression and three unresolved violent conflicts. The protests spread quickly across the entire country.
Spiegel: Who are the protesters?
El Gizouli: It is interesting that protests erupted in mainly provincial towns - towns with between 100.000 and 300.000 inhabitants, regions that formed the backbone of support for the ruling party, in power for decades. In Khartoum, in addition to the urban poor there is also the middle class protesting - students, intellectuals, young professionals. They are demanding democratization and for Bashir to step down.
Spiegel: Why did the regime lose their support?
El Gizouli: If you don't feed a clientelist network with money, it starts to fray. We are now seeing the consequences of the loss of South Sudan, where most oil reserves are - there is no longer enough, to keep the clientelism going.
Spiegel: How does Khartoum deal with the protests?
El Gizouli: The government initially tried to discredit them. Now they are trying to channel the protests into more controllable directions. Fallible opposition figures have been appropriating almost all demands of the protesters - except for the one calling for Bashir to step down.
Spiegel: Where could things go from here?
El Gizouli: Such a situation provides the perfect setting for a coup. But even if Bashir doesn't disappear immediately: He is finished. The alliance against him is getting bigger every day. The military will keep an eye on maintaining its own interests.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons Licence
This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.