EDITORIAL: Since the power struggle between two factions of Sudan’s military regime led by the country’s de facto ruler Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and head of Rapid Support Forces Gen Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo - better known as Hemedti - erupted on April 15, more than 500 people have been killed and thousands wounded.

Millions have been left without food, electricity and water while 19 hospitals have been shelled and 19 others destroyed. Last Tuesday, fighters occupied the national public health laboratory holding samples of infectious deceases, such as polio, measles and cholera, creating what the WHO (World Health Organization) described as an “extremely, extremely dangerous situation”.

Other countries, including Pakistan, have been evacuating their citizens from the embattled nation while the UN refugee agency said it was bracing for up to 270,000 people to flee Sudan into neighbouring South Sudan and Chad.

A 72-hour ceasefire brokered last Sunday by the US between the two warring generals does not seem to be holding well beyond that timeline. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken talked with African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat about creating a ‘sustainable’ end to the fighting.

But sustainable end should not mean working out a power-sharing deal between the two generals; it must address the real cause of the trouble that has its origins in the 2019 popular uprising against the dictatorial regime of president Omar al-Bashir leading to his ouster. Several pro-democracy protesters were killed before both Gen Burhan and Gen Hemedti decided to intervene to take advantage of the situation.

Later, they struck a deal with leader of a pro-democracy group - strongly disapproved by major political players - promising progressive transfer of power to civilians. But as is the case with such arrangements, the generals did not tolerate even a symbolic civilian-led ‘transitional’ government and got rid of it in a military coup staged two years ago.

Thousands of democracy aspirants have since kept taking to the streets in weekly protests against the military rule seeking justice for those killed in the 2019 insurrection and demanding reform of the military, including termination of its commercial interests in agriculture, trade, and industries. Tensions had remained high before the present violent competition for power broke out, plunging the country into a vicious turmoil.

Efforts by the African Union, the UN, and the US to cease the internecine conflict may or may not succeed. There is a danger of Sudan becoming another Syria given that major powers, the US and Russia, as well as regional players Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are already vying for influence in the strategically located Sudan. It can only be hoped those mediating will focus on finding a durable solution to the unrelenting trouble in that country. That calls for supplanting the military rule with an elected, democratic dispensation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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