Between daydreams and denial
Whereas Sudan urgently needs a political solution to its current crisis, the government is in denial and the opposition refuses to let up until the whole regime falls, writes Asmaa El-Husseini
Once again, Sudan is dealing with its problems using the same old tricks: it played down the size and influence of popular demonstrations that began last month to protest against price hikes on goods and the elimination of fuel subsidies.
Protests escalated to condemning all of the regime's policies and demanding its overthrow -- like in other Arab revolutions, the people of Sudan have started labelling each Friday to encourage protesters. There was "Sandstorm Friday" and "Lick the Elbow Friday" -- in reference to the expression the regime used to challenge the opposition. Last Friday was "Outlaw Friday", which is how Sudan's president, Omar Al-Bashir, described protesters in a recent speech.
The regime refuses to take responsibility for the state of affairs in Sudan after 23 years under its rule. Not only does it deny responsibility and refuse to apologise, but it also continues in its old ways of understating problems and disparaging the opposition. There are no protests, according to some leaders, or they are merely sabotage operations committed by outlaws or others who are being manipulated by Zionist, Western, international or South Sudan conspiracies (the latter which supports armed rebels in Darfur).
The regime has tried to distort the image of peaceful protesters and accuse them of damaging government installations and burning down institutions, including trying to burn down the Sudanese embassy in London where protesters gathered barefoot in large numbers. These offensive claims and accusations have surfaced many times before against regime opponents in the North and South, which make it impossible to genuinely solve any of the country's problems.
Today, demonstrations are attracting world attention and draw more criticism against the regime. Despite the difficulties facing protesters, including the iron fist of Sudan's security agencies, the people are not standing down. There is also heated competition between two camps in Sudan: one wanting to ignite protests to topple the regime after it destroyed the country's unity and threatens to fragment it further if it remains in power; the other camp comprised of the government and its supporters who will organise their own counter protests Friday to defend God and country and which are likely to be well organised.
Responding to demonstrations with counter-protests and offsetting mobilisation with counter-mobilisation will not resolve Sudan's problems, however. There is a dire need for Sudan to avoid sacrificing more, as it has done for decades, in terms of the unity of its people, territories, reputation and dignity of its people who were dispersed everywhere inside and outside Sudan as refugees or internally displaced persons.
Today, there is a dire need to end the bloodshed in unrelenting wars in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and bring the people together in unity. But this is impossible without real solutions, whereby the regime makes genuine sacrifices to end bloodshed inside the country and with neighbouring South Sudan. The best way is the shortest way, unlike the solutions the regime adopted in the past that led nowhere except wasting Sudan's chances at stability, development and progress, while instigating division, discord and war amongst the people.
Finding a political solution is essential for the salvation of all Sudanese people. But the regime rejects the notion and hopes to continue its crackdown on protests, which it insists are limited. It is counting on its ability to resolve the country's economic problems in the next few months, despite the bleak outlook. In turn, the opposition wants to manipulate demonstrations and expand them, not stopping until the regime is removed, without the least consideration on the difficulties and challenges ahead in achieving this goal.
The greatest obstacle in the path of a political solution is the lack of confidence shared across the key players, especially regarding the government, which the opposition views as duplicitous if not criminal.