Rebellion brewing in Sudan over Bashir rule

Saturday December 29 2018

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FRED OLUOCH
By FRED OLUOCH
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The decision by Sudan’s ruling party to change the Constitution to allow President Omar al-Bashir to run for another term seems to be fomenting a rebellion in the country.

What started as protests across cities over the high prices of essential commodities such as fuel and bread—after the removal of the subsidies—has now attracted opposition parties and workers, who are calling for concerted efforts to cause the fall of the Bashir the regime.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) leader, Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, has called upon opposition forces to protest against the regime on grounds that “Its collapse will preserve Sudan’s unity.”

The US embassy in Khartoum issued an advisory to its citizens to limit their movements because demonstrations were expected after Friday prayers in Khartoum and other cities across Sudan on Monday, December 31 and January 1 — which happens to be the country’s Independence Day.

In August, the ruling National Congress Party amended its constitution to allow President Bashir to be its candidate in the 2020 elections. He said that he is ready for elections and he would not postpone them despite the current economic difficulties.

"The Sudanese people have the right to vote. We respect their opinion and have prepared ourselves for the elections," said President al-Bashir, who appears to have changed his mind to run for a third term after party diehards rejected his handpicked successor, Mohammed Tahir Ayala, the governor of Gezira State.

Sudan has since the beginning of 2018 experienced a debilitating economic crisis after the government lifted the subsidies on basic commodities.

Economists say that the economic downturns is the result of the indolence of South Sudan in 2011, which went away with the 75 of the oil wells.

The discontent and anger among the people have led to sporadic protests, which the government has suppressed with utmost ruthlessness.

Khartoum has devalued the local currency against the US dollar, but that has created another crisis in the shortage of the dollar, forcing people to queue for long at the banks' automatic teller machines (ATM). Inflation rate soared to 67 per cent last month.

The economic downturn forced President al-Bashir to push for the peace agreement in South Sudan in September to allow the resumption of the oil production, which feeds into the economy through transportation fee on the pipeline.

President al-Bashir had followed through his promise in 2014 to introduce political reforms. Besides holding a national dialogue and forming a government of national unity that included willing opposition, President al-Bashir had promised to open up political space to allow civil society and religious freedom.

President has also re-introduced the position of the Prime Minister that had been abolished after the 1989 coup, but the hardliners within the NCP still call the shots in government. President al-Bashir has ruled Sudan for the last 29 years.

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