The Sudan Call: Will Bashir listen to the voice of the people?

Saturday December 20 2014

With the recent signing of the Sudan Call, hailed by some as an unprecedented political declaration, Sudan seems to have reached a milestone in its contemporary history.

Signed by the National Consensus Forces (NCF), the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), the National Umma Party (NUP) and the newly formed Civil Society Initiative (CSI) led by human rights lawyer and activist Dr Amin Mekki Medani, the Call demands the end to the National Congress Party’s one-party rule, now in its 25th year, and the establishment of a transitional government mandated to lead a constitutional process and prepare for national elections.

However, as Sudan has seen with similar declarations in the past — most notably the New Dawn Charter — the optimism generated by the Call may be short-lived. While the impact of the Call has not been felt, it comes at a time when Sudanese and non-Sudanese actors are increasingly realising that a comprehensive approach to solving Sudan’s security and governance issues is the only way forward.

While the Sudanese civil society has for almost a decade made this comprehensive approach the centrepiece of its strategy and outreach efforts, it is only in September this year that the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, endorsed a holistic approach for the various stakeholders to reach such a solution.

The Call represents only a first step in creating a national platform of change that is representative and inclusive of the leaders of the political opposition and the civil society. And, as recent history attests, the first step can be the hardest to follow.

The government quickly responded the Call by arresting Dr Medani and Farouk Abu Issa, the head of the NCF, shortly after their return to Khartoum.

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The government’s aggression is nowhere felt more than in the marginalised regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. The signatories of the Call must go beyond a declaration and jointly develop alternative policies of governance reforms that address and mend 25 years of the destruction of Sudan’s institutions.

As another difficult year in Sudan draws to a close, and the spectre of NCP-led elections looms ever closer, for a Sudanese public long accustomed to the theatrics of politics, will the Call provide the substance they have been longing for?

Sudan Democracy First Group,
Via e-mail

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EAC leaders must end corruption

In Africa, Tanzania is not often singled out for corruption. But, in the past few years, the country has had its fair share of corruption scandals running into hundreds of millions of dollars and implicating many of the highest-placed figures in the country.

Just the other day, the United States announced that it had suspended the signing of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement with Tanzania pending the governments action on Tegeta escrow account scandal. This is a 2014 multimillion-dollar corruption scheme in the government of Tanzania. Reports show that up to $400 million were transferred from the Central Bank and distributed illegally among government officials and other individuals.

In October, a group of 12 donors, including Japan, the UK, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, decided to withhold about $490 million in aid until the government took action over alleged corruption.

The mood among Tanzanians is that of anger. East Africans should push their governments to show a strong commitment and will to fight the corruption.

Kimani wa Njuguna
Gatundu South, Kenya

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Kenya is stifling the civil society

Kenya’s decision to deregister hundreds of NGOs seriously restricts the work of the civil society, especially in light of the passed legislation that will further limit the fundamental, freedoms of Kenyans.

Kenya is rated partly free in Freedom in the World 2014, partly free in Freedom of the Press 2014, and free in Freedom on the Net 2014. Civil society plays an important role in the functioning of democracies, a role that should be respected and protected.

Jenai Cox
Programme manager, Freedom House

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