Despite Bashir ouster, Sudanese people must pursue democracy

Monday April 15 2019

Sudanese women celebrate after an announcement

Sudanese women celebrate after an announcement made by Sudan's new military ruler, outside the army headquarters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on April 13, 2019. PHOTO | EBRAHIM HAMID | AFP 

MACHARIA GAITHO
By MACHARIA GAITHO
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The fall of Sudanese dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir should send a powerful message to all the leaders in Africa who think they have a divine right to brutalise their own people and to rule for life. We can only say good riddance and pray that other leaders of similar mien on the continent are forced out in like fashion.

It is sad, however, that, like with the ouster of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe in 2017, what should have been a popular uprising was hijacked by the armed forces that were the backbone of the dictatorship.

NEW REGIME

The ‘transitional’ military junta in charge in Khartoum is, therefore, just a continuation of the dictatorship, sans Bashir. It cannot be expected to restore democracy, the rule of law and basic freedoms.

It is instructive that the new regime has ruled out honouring a long-standing arrest warrant and handing Mr Bashir over to the International Criminal Court.

This is because the generals were accomplices to the genocide in Darfur. President Bashir bore political responsibility but the military brass were the actual perpetrators and executors of murder, rape, arson and other brutalities meted out on an entire population group deemed undesirable on ethnic and religious grounds.

The military’s removal of Bashir was, therefore, an act of self-preservation, not a sudden conversion to democracy.

The people of Sudan must not be lulled into a false sense of accomplishment but maintain the push towards uprooting of the military regime.

This could be a lonely fight, however. The people of Sudan fighting for their rights and dignity cannot expect assistance from the international community, the African Union or Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Egypt and other countries in the neighbourhood.

In West Africa, I witnessed governments coming together in aid of peoples under threat from tyrants.

MASSING TROOPS

I was privileged to be in Burkina Faso in 2015, when the people heroically resisted an attempt by elements of the military to restore the dictatorship of President Blaise Compaore, who had been ousted two years earlier.

The attempted putsch was crushed by the will of the people — no doubt bolstered because neighbouring countries, under the aegis of the regional security bloc, started massing troops and were ready to intervene if the plotters did not stand down.

In this region, however, our leaders support fellow dictators despite the harm they do to their own people.

The East African Community and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) continues to tolerate the likes of Presidents Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi and Salva Kiir in South Sudan despite them operating in total defiance of the principles supposed to underline the important regional blocs.

Regional leaders embraced President Bashir when he was supposed to be treated like a leper after his ICC indictment and became leading forces in the campaign against the international justice mechanisms because they needed to protect some of their own, including Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

PARASITIC CLASS

The AU even had the temerity to criticise the forced removal of Sudan’s Bashir but was mute when he took power by force of arms 30 years ago and employed brute force against his own people.

We also have the crass hypocrisy of the United States, which demands that leaders across the world live up to civilised behaviour, yet demands immunity for its own and ally Israel’s human rights abuses and war crimes in Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Iraq and other theatres of armed conflict.

With its latest rejection of ICC jurisdiction, the US is unlikely to support justice for the people of Sudan.

Those people now have the opportunity to set an example for the rest of Africa by taking matters into their own hands. They must sustain the fight against extension of the military junta.

* * *

There has been a bit of kerfuffle following complaints by some Jubilee politicians allied to Deputy President Ruto that their bodyguards have been withdrawn.

But aren’t these the same fellows who lustily cheered when opposition leaders suffered a similar fate?

Anyway, the principle is that all police officers attached to politicians on both sides should be recalled. At one count, nearly 30 per cent of our police officers were serving as drivers, nannies, watchmen, pimps, errand boys and gardeners for our pompous VIPs.

The parasitic classes afraid of their own shadows have the resources to employ private security guards and leave our men and women in blue to critical national security duties.

[email protected] @MachariaGaitho

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