The Guardian February 23, 2000


The situation in the Sudan

A statement by the Sudanese Communist Party

In 1998, after 10 years of the rule of the National Islamic Front (NIF) and 
its military wing within the Sudanese Army, the elderly politicians of the 
ruling party, including the ideologue of the regime, Dr Hassan al-Turabi, 
reached the conclusion that the Sudanese Islamic movement represented by 
the NIF and its allies had failed markedly to realise its "Islamic 
Civilisation Project" and to become a model for the Islamic world.

It had also clearly failed to implement its salvation mission to reform the 
moral, political, economic life in Sudan and to resolve the civil war and 
thereby cement national unity as promised in the first statement of the 
Salvation Military Council after the coup in June, 1989.

As a consequence, they were forced to retreat, while still manoeuvring hard 
to preserve the maximum amount possible of their political power, 
credibility and wealth.

They opted in the course of that year for a quasi-democracy, and engineered 
an "Islamic constitution" that listed fundamental freedoms subject to 
the conditions and restrictions of the relevant laws.

This means, for example, that freedom of association is restricted by the 
Political Parties Act and the Trade Union Act, which ex-communicated the 
political parties and the trade unions incorporated under the umbrella of 
the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Similarly, freedom of the press is restricted by the Press and Publication 
Act.

Nevertheless, these limited freedoms opened the door for the opposition to 
activate inside the country and for the press to criticise the wide-spread 
corruption in public tenders, in state sector privatisation projects, in 
imports of spoiled foods and drugs.

The press and opposition were also able to criticise the financial and 
administrative corruption of senior officials in central and state 
governments, state authorities' intimidation of traditional businessmen in 
favour of NIF parasitic capital and also to expose the government policies 
that led to the collapse of education and health services and the 
unprecedented spread of redundancy and unemployment.

The press also covered the news of the protest actions of workers, 
teachers, tenants and students inside the country and the activities of the 
opposition especially the NDA abroad.

The "Islamic" demagoguery and taboos of the regime were exposed and people 
openly made fun of them. The fanatics and hawks of the regime were provoked 
as well as scared by this political turmoil.

They grouped themselves behind General Omar al-Bashir in his power rivalry 
with Dr Hassan al-Turabi and pushed the General to advocate their views and 
become their official voice.

Last year, to avoid unconditional defeat, the regime attempted a counter 
attack to contain internal political developments and prevent them from 
exploding into a popular uprising.

It embarked on an offensive to isolate the NDA, split its unity and weaken 
its forces.

In aspiring to gain new ground both internally, regionally and 
internationally, the regime is hoping to strengthen its grip over the Sudan 
and to have strong cards in any coming negotiation with the SPLA [Sudan 
People's Liberation Army] and the NDA.

It is in this context, that in May, 1999, Turabi met in Geneva with Sayed 
al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, former Prime Minister, president of the Umma party and 
one of the prominent leaders of the opposition.

This activity served to focus regional and international attention on the 
political situation in Sudan and the possible peaceful and global solution 
to its problems.

A number of foreign players entered actively the political game in the 
Sudan. Each is motivated by its own interests.

The government of the Sudan has been campaigning throughout the western 
countries to demonstrate that political reform is afoot and a new era of 
democracy has begun.

It is also busy reassuring the West that the Sudanese Government has been 
adopting a neo-liberal market economy and implementing IMF prescriptions to 
the letter.

Last June the IMF confirmed this fact and praised the Sudanese Government.

The regime is cynically exploiting the post-cold war economic competition 
between the USA and the European Community, especially the tug of war 
between the USA and France in Africa, to release itself from the 
international isolation it has been in since its crackdown on the 
professional community in the Sudan after the doctors' strike in November, 
1989.

It is also successfully playing the card of oil exploration and the 
privatisation of state assets.

Now countries like France, Germany, Britain, Norway, the Netherlands and 
Italy are hurrying to normalise their relations with the Sudanese 
Government, leaving behind all their moral rhetoric about human rights, 
democracy and international terrorism.

There are reports that the regime is also offering the US administration a 
strategic alliance so that the Sudan can be the springboard for US 
strategic plans to control the present and future sources of oil and 
mineral production in Africa and the Red Sea. The anti-US public statements 
of the regime are addressed to Africa, the Arab world and for local 
consumption.

Regionally, the Sudanese regime tried to exploit the consequences of the 
armed conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and between Uganda and 
Democratic Congo in an attempt to isolate the NDA and the SPLA and deny 
them the support of the neighbouring countries.

The Sudanese Government even asked the latter to extradite Sudanese 
opposition leaders living there in exile, but in vain.

In the Arab world, the regime in Sudan is playing a dangerous game and 
harming Sudan's national interests by projecting the problems of the 
country as an ethnic and religious conflict, as rivalry between Arab and 
African stocks and between Islam and Christianity. In this way the regime 
hopes to gain the support of Moslems and Arab nationalists.

Unfortunately, this game is facilitated and heated by the Western media, 
Christian fundamentalist institutions and the quarters of Islamic 
fundamentalism. We believe that the problems of the Sudan have to be solved 
globally and once and for all.

The conflict in the Sudan is triggered and sustained by political, civil, 
economic, social, cultural and regional injustices as well as denial of 
equality based on citizenship and the concentration of political power and 
wealth in the hands of the elite of central Sudan.

We have to learn from South Africa's experiences in building national unity 
and national consensus and the smooth transition to multi-racial, multi-
cultural and multi-religious democracy and civil society.

We must hold a Constitutional Conference of Sudanese political forces to 
dismantle the present totalitarian regime and to get rid of all forms of 
injustice and inequality in our political systems since independence.

The present regime in the Sudan is not transformable and the appropriate 
solution is to dismantle it altogether. All genuine selfless foreign 
initiatives have to co-ordinate their efforts so that Sudanese political 
forces can reach this goal.

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