Follow Us:

Sudan’s makeover

More than 120 people are believed to have been killed when paramilitaries moved in to disperse a protest camp in the centre of Khartoum in June.

Editorial | New Delhi |

Embattled Sudan gears up for what has been projected in the African country as a dramatic transformation, embedded in the power-sharing agreement between the military and the prodemocracy movement. The very nature of the pact ~ between the army and yesterday’s protestors ~ would seem rather unusual and not the least in the chronically tormented Arab region and North Africa. Notably, Egypt, Libya and Syria are still grappling with the fallout of the Arab Spring. Indeed, yesterday’s protestors in Sudan are integral to today’s governance and in league with the soldiers.

The primary significance of the change is the ouster of the repressive President, Omar al-Bashir. Chiefly, the agreement provides for the new government to make peace with rebel groups within six months. “The time is now over forever,” is currently the warcry of the joint military-civilian sovereign council, going by its signal of intent that was advanced last Wednesday. Remarkably enough, both sides have agreed on “trust-building” measures, including the release of all war prisoners. Over the past few weeks, the military council, that assumed power after al- Bashir’s ouster, has released dozens of such detainees.

The composition of the new legislative entity and the appointment of regional governors will have to await the final deal. The interim agreement in a fractious land is reassuring enough and is, on the face of it, a roadmap for peace. It must, at the end of the day, translate to growth, development and welfare in an impoverished swathe of the world. A striking feature of the upheaval that roiled the country for as long as it did has been the renaming of public spaces and roads in the capital Khartoum after those people killed in the revolt that started in December last year and had led to the toppling of the dictator al-Bashir in April.

This is neither a cosmetic change nor a whim of the municipality, as say in Kolkata, but a conscious intiative to immortalise those who died for the country. Hence the contention of the pro-democracy segment ~ “Changing the names of the streets means documenting our revolution. People will keep remembering the martyrs for thousands of years. We are also changing the ideology and building a new Sudan with new names of the streets, and a new way of thinking.” Protesters used the social media to raise the possibility of naming roads after those killed in the recent violence.

More than 120 people are believed to have been killed when paramilitaries moved in to disperse a protest camp in the centre of Khartoum in June. Others died in separate attacks on demonstrators and activists. While Sudan’s tragedy is a fact of African hisory, it would be presumptuous to aver that the country is headed for an ideological makeover as well. It may yet find itself posited on a powder-keg.