Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Sudan: A new Sudan in the making

Sudan has witnessed two revolutions in the past, in October of 1964 and in April of 1985. Sudan is not new to revolutions, and it is definitely not taking part in the Arab Spring. Primarily, because Sudan, in recent times, was never considered an Arab state, not by Arab or Western media, nor by Arab or Western academia.

The current protests taking place in Khartoum and other cities in Sudan were sparked by a new government austerity plan. The plan includes the removal of fuel subsidies and cuts to government spending to decrease a $2.5 billion budget deficit. The Sudanese government lost 75% of its oil revenues due to the secession of the South, and the recent conflict in Heglig saw the shutdown of oil production for a significant amount of time. 

A normal person would think that given the loss of oil revenues the government is right to impose austerity measures. Let's assume that since signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, the government was working - which I highly doubt - towards a united Sudan, the eventual loss of oil revenues was obvious since the results of the secession plebiscite from February of 2011. Imposing austerity plans in June 2012 is, let's be charitable and say, fatuous.

Nevertheless, the budget deficit will not be fixed by an austerity plan, or any plan for that matter. What the government needs to do is realise that it's not qualified to run a country. Hence, the protests.

The common misconception is that the protests are against the austerity plan, they're not. The protesters are calling for the fall of the regime. They might have been sparked by the austerity plan, but they have been ongoing for 10 days now and it doesn't seem that they will stop any time soon. 

The students, and citizens who eventually joined, want regime change for very simple and understandable reasons. The education and health systems in Sudan are virtually nonexistent. There's no infrastructure, no legal system, no economic plan of any sort, and last but not least, no freedom of expression. For all intents and purposes, Sudan is a failed state; statistically, socially, economically, financially, and everything else-lly. 

Unfortunately for us, the current development of events are indicative of similar scenarios to those of the recent Arab revolutions. First, there's the denial of violence towards the protesters by the likes of Amin Hassan Omer, who appeared on Al Jazeera - along with the white pubic hair on his chin - to discredit the peaceful protests in the country. Then, there's Omar Al Bashir, pulling off a Qaddafi, and calling the protesters "شذاذ أفاق" (foreign prospects).

The government's plan to reduce spending kicked off last week with the resignation of the Khartoum State government, and eventually the Red Sea State government. The only issue here is not the resignations, but the formation of new cabinets in these governments. If this is going to cut costs, it either means the sacked government officials were over-payed or the new ones are cheaper, which means not qualified. And it is precisely these nonsensical decisions that have brought Sudan to where it is today.

The only salvation for Sudan's economy was - and I emphasize on was - agriculture. However, the government - and its officials - was so busy falsely spending the oil revenues of the last 10 years that it forgot to keep agriculture a viable option. So now, I guess the only solution is to sell Starvation Bonds to European banks. The situation cannot get any worse than it is now. 

The current events in Sudan look promising, and I think I speak for all sane un-bearded people when I say, I hope Sudan rises as a nation against corruption and defunct political institutions.

Sociable

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