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The Sudanese uprising is not quite finished Open in fullscreen

Yassmin Abdel-Magied

The Sudanese uprising is not quite finished

Bashir was toppled on Thursday after months of protests [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 April, 2019

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This piece was going to be about the success of the current Sudanese uprising, but we are not quite there yet, writes Yassmin Abdel-Magied.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, murmurs ran through the sit-in at the military headquarters in Khartoum. As the news spread, the low sound turned into roaring chants. "He's fallen!", the crowds called. 

Reports had emerged that Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese President of almost 30 years, had stepped down after being deposed by the army. Details were scarce, and the Sudanese people across the country – and the world – waited with bated breath. My own mother called me, waking me up to listen to the Sudanese radio.

Read also: Goodbye Omar al-Bashir: Who is Sudan's ousted dictator?

At any moment, we were told, the military would make an "important announcement".

Celebrations had already begun on the street, as Sudanese military music played over the radios of thousands. Any moment, they said. 'Any moment' wouldn't come until almost nine hours later, and the statement read by Awad Ibn Ouf would not be received well. 

Sudan is no stranger to coups. In the 63 years since independence, the nation has seen four successful attempts: in 1958, 1969, 1985, and Bashir's own in 1989. 
Sudan is no stranger to coups. In the 63 years since independence, the nation has seen four successful attempts: in 1958, 1969, 1985, and Bashir's own in 1989
The Horn-of-African nation seems to have a cycle it faithfully follows: a few years of democratic rule, followed by a coup and a stretch of military autocracy. This uprising, although only coming to the attention of mainstream western media in the last few days, is a culmination of months of protesting and organising by people on the ground, spearheaded by groups like the Sudanese Professional's Association (SPA) and bolstered by many in the diaspora. 

Demonstrations began in December, in the eastern city of Atbara, catalysed by catastrophic levels of inflation. Exorbitant bread prices, hour-long-queues for fuel and an inability to take out any cash from ATMs meant that life had become unliveable, and the people of Sudan had enough.
It is worth remembering that the 2018/2019 protests are not the first time Sudanese people had tried to bring down Bashir. There was an early attempt a few months after the Egyptian Arab Spring moment in 2011, resuming later in 2012 and 2013.

It would be a mistake to assume the Sudanese movements are simply an extension of the Arab Spring movement however: the Arab history of the country is controversial and contested, which is partly why many of the 2018/2019 protesters have used the original tricolour flag of Blue, Yellow and Green (representing the Nile, Sahara and Agriculture) Sudanese flag.

The use of the pre-1970 flag is a way of distancing Sudan – and the current fight – from the Pan-Arab colours of Green, Red, Black and White. Sudan's history is complex; a web of foreign political interests, ideologically fuelled conservative religious rule and tribalism making it difficult to understand the lay of the land and the appropriate pathway forward.

Read also: Sudan: This time it's different

What is clear, however, is that the announcement made by the military on Thursday morning was simply a decoy and a game of musical chairs, rather than a real changing of the guard. 

In his announcement, Lt Gen Ahmed Awad Ibn Ouf, the former Minister of Defence and First Vice President of Sudan (since February 2019), stated that he would lead a transitional military government for two years. 

The military leader declared a state of emergency and introduced a curfew from 10pm to 4am, shutting down the airport and dissolving the constitution. As a 'sweetener', he also announced the release of political prisoners and a nationwide ceasefire.
Ibn Ouf is hardly the people's wish for a new Sudan. He is not change, and the protesters know it
However, Ibn Ouf is hardly the people's wish for a new Sudan: he has served as the head of Military Intelligence and Security, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was sanctioned in 2007 for his role as the liaison between the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militia, responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians in Darfur. 

He has served alongside Omar al-Bashir and within the ruling National Congress Party for years. He is not change, and the protesters know it. 
It's too early to know exactly what is going to happen next, but the Sudanese Professional Association has called for people to continue the sit-ins across the country until there is a full regime change.

Renewed chanting has swept the nation, broadcast on videos sent in WhatsApp groups and Instagram stories in Arabic and English across the world. "One Fell, Fall Again!", they yell – women, men, children and everyone in between.

To paraphrase a famous saying: It's not over until the Kandaka tazagrit.  

Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a Sudanese-Australian author, engineer and social justice advocate.

Follow her on Twitter: @yassmin_a

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