Sudan after Bashir's fall: the masses fight against the coup

After the removal of the now former President Omar al-Bashir from power yesterday by the military, the people of Sudan remain on the streets. They are rejecting the curfew and military transitional council led by Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, the former First Vice President of Sudan. Yesterday, in response to the new transitional government formed by the regime old guard, chants could be heard saying “We won’t replace Koaz [An Islamist leader - ed] by another, Ibn Auf we will crush you, we are the generation that will not be fooled” and "the revolution has only just begun".

A statement swiftly followed this from the Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, made up of the Sudanese Professional Association and the opposition groups, including the National Consensus Alliance, Sudan Call and the Unionist Gathering. This joint statement called for the people of Sudan to “continue the revolution, through holding their sit-in positions at the Army Forces HQs in Khartoum and other main SAF posts in the provinces of Sudan, and to remain on the streets in all the towns of Sudan. We shall stand our ground on the public squares and roads that we have liberated with our might, continuing with the popular struggle until state power is reinstated to a civilian transitional government that represents the forces of the revolution. That is our clear and irrevocable stance: the streets never betray, and we shall meet there.”

Sudanese soldiersSudanese soldiersLast night, as the sun set and it got closer to curfew, the number of demonstrators at the sit-in swelled as Khartoum saw an influx of demonstrators from neighbouring towns, including Atbara, where this movement first began. It came to 10pm, the curfew time, and the people did not budge. They made it clear that they will not budge until they have a civil transitional government. As more reports poured in of the cosmetic change of leadership and the internal handover of power within the regime, it became clear to everyone that this was a final attempt by the National Congress Party (NCP) to hold onto power and quell the movement.

The announcement also came as news to much of the military. Anonymous sources within the army have said that they were not informed of this coup nor do they agree with it and instead sided with the people. They say that this was an internal coup organised by the Security Council, made up of the leaders of the NCP, NISS and Ibn Auf. The military transitional council stated that they will release a statement naming the members of the council, but so far, only two people have been named, arousing suspicion. However, it is clear that the council is all made up of the figureheads of the old regime.

Ibn Auf, for example, was sanctioned for war crimes in Darfur in 2007, the same crimes that saw Bashir wanted by the ICC for war crimes. During the past three months’ demonstrations, Ibn Auf was said to have ordered violent action against the protests, even giving military personal the go-ahead to shoot to kill. However, there are still splits within the army. Those who have chosen to side with the people remain at the sit-ins. Moreover, a recent statement issued by the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) says he will not join the transitional military council. Though this poses a massive blow to the military transitional council, as the RSF currently holds the biggest majority within Khartoum, the RSF was al-Bashir’s private army within the army and is made up of former members of the Janjaweed. These are notorious fighters who committed mass atrocities in Darfur. This means that that the intentions of the RSF are yet to be seen.

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The next step

The people are aware that the next few days will be crucial; the military transitional council will do what it can to disperse the crowds. They have already attempted to close the main bridges leading to Khartoum before the curfew and release anonymous statements of solidarity of the soldiers to Ibn Auf. However, this just shows the sheer desperation of the regime. The people already know that many of the low-ranking military sympathise with the movement. They have also tried to gain sympathy from the people by releasing all political prisoners of the uprising since mid-December. However, they have also indicated that, should they not get their way soon, they will unleash aggressive actions on the people. The people have nothing to protect them, but their numbers and the movement to fight against this attempted military coup.

Emblem of the Sudanese Communist Party.svgEmblem of the Sudanese Communist PartyThe Sudanese Communist Party, along with other oppositional groups, have stated that they refuse any military coup, and that the army must comply with what the people want. The Party proposes to form a coalition with the civilian movements and trade unions and to make a single council to govern the country for a minimum of four years. This, they believe, is to ensure the people are able to organise and decide for themselves the direction of Sudan.

While it is correct to demand the army to step back, negotiating with the army and replacing the regime with another unelected government will not solve any of the problems. What is necessary, is for the Communist party, the unions and other mass organisations to build up a network of councils in every factory, school, neighbourhood and village, elected by the revolutionary masses with the right for recall. These should be connected on a national level in order to take power.

On 6 April, a general strike was announced. In spite of all the decrees of the army, the people remain in the streets. The military is completely isolated and very weak and the coup has no support. It is suffering from a series of splits and is incapable of reacting violently to the demonstrators. Such an attack would lead to an even bigger mass backlash, which could disintegrate the army and destroy the regime as a whole. It is completely outnumbered by the people, who hold real power in their hands. The task now is not to ask or negotiate, but to mobilise and expand the revolution, in order to overthrow the army and the whole of this rotten regime, which has been leeching off the backs of the people for decades.