Bringing Back Democracy In Sudan

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The current coup d’état in Sudan is a massive setback to democracy in that African country.The event,which came after a similar one in Guinea, has further shown that harsh change of government,which is no longer fashionable in other climes, is still a possibility in Africa.Although the African Union (AU) has condemned the coup,it should do more to stem the frequency of coups on the continent. No doubt,the development of multi-party democracy in Africa has been hindered by coups.

Following the coup, the Sudanese military led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan took control of the government and arrested at least five senior civilian officials, including the Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Not less than nine people were killed and more than 170 others injured during protests by citizens against the coup.

The military putsch came after weeks of mounting tensions between military and civilian leaders over the course and pace of Sudan’s transition to democracy. The coup leader, Burhan, said the military was compelled to overthrow the government to avert a civil war in the country. However, the putsch, coming a few weeks to hand over of the leadership of the Sovereign Council to civilians, makes his explanation doubtful.

We condemn the coup in strongest terms and call for the restoration of constitutional order. Let the coup leaders release all political detainees and hand over power to civilian authorities. The development in Sudan has shown that military incursion in politics is not yet over in Africa. This year alone, Africa has witnessed military interventions in Guinea, Mali and Chad. The Sudanese episode has added to the growing number of countries in Africa affected by the coup culture.

Political instability is not good for the development of Africa. Forceful change of government, irrespective of the reasons, is quite unacceptable.  A return to constitutional order in Sudan remains the best option. Sudan has the unenviable record of being the country with the highest number of coups (including plots) on the continent put at 35. The latest exercise calls for serious concern, especially as it constitutes further threats to a wobbling transition programme that has been in place since the overthrow of longtime dictator, Gen. Omar al-Bashir, in a popular uprising two years ago.

It is commendable that the World Bank, the United States (US) and the African Union (UN) have condemned the coup and imposed sanctions. The World Bank has suspended its aid to Sudan, estimated at $3billion to support agriculture, transport, health care and education, among others. The US has equally frozen $700million (£508million) in aid to the country, while the AU has suspended the country from its activities until constitutional order is restored.

READ ALSO: Will Sudan’s Peace Deal With Rebels Work?

There is no doubt that the sudden cut in aids is likely to have dire consequences for Sudan’s battered economy. But they are moves aimed at putting pressure on the coup leaders to reinstate the ousted civilian government. We call for more stringent measures against the Sudanese coup leaders.

Let the soldiers in Sudan and elsewhere in Africa limit themselves to their constitutional duties of protecting their countries against external aggression. They are not trained for civil governance. Unless the rising trend of military adventurism is checked in Africa, it may sound the death knell for democracy on the continent. More actions are required from the international community to halt the growing menace.

We reiterate that all the civilian detainees in Sudan should be released without further delay. We commend the protesters for insisting on the return to democratic order. Burhan and members of his clique must respect the rights of the civilians in Sudan and handle the situation with maturity.

To guard against the gamble in Sudan taking place in other parts of Africa, African political leaders must embrace good governance. Bad leadership is often an invitation to coups in Africa.

It is high time politicians in Africa embraced multi-party democracy and play the game according to the rules. Transparency in governance is the panacea to military takeover of power. The history of coups in Africa has shown that coup is never a solution to bad governance. The military must learn to subordinate itself to civil authorities in Africa. There is need to nurture and protect democracy in Sudan and other African countries. 

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