Sudan: Between Reform and Conflict

Political thought in Sudan generally avoids the issue of reform, since the very notion falls short of the political and developmental ambitions the country has harboured since independence, in 1956. The Sudanese people believe that they are more advanced democratically than other Arab and African countries, since they have known party pluralism, even a Communist Party, and the two popular intifadas (uprisings) against dictatorial regimes had been victorious, and had succeeded in reinstating democracy. They also prefer, whenever their democracy is in regression, to use terms like “democratic transformation” or “reinstitution of democracy”, though the situation this time around is entirely different, given the nature of the regime, the major political parties’ lack of vitality and political imagination, diverse makeup of the population, the impact of armed conflicts and recurrent foreign interventions. Moreover, due to the ensuing interwoven problems and failure to fulfil the general aspiration of the Sudanese people, the present authority has set up a “secucracy” that today controls the course of Sudanese politics. It is a governance system, which does not necessarily use crude repressive methods, but rather a well-measured carrot and stick approach that helps them do both, manage and entrench the current political vacuum in the country. Undoubtedly, the security services are the most modern and well-run institution in the country, as well as the richest, given its open-ended budget that knows no parliamentary or legal accountability. It is therefore able, more than any other government or partisan institution in the country, to control every aspect of civil service and society and thus play, to a certain extent, the traditional role that armies usually play in Arab politics.

The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.